Violence looms as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks hit deadlock

13:37, December 14, 2009      

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by Fares Akram, Emad Drimly

Violence is looming as the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Israel failed to resume peace talks and Israel continues its settlement activities in the occupied territories.

On Sunday morning, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli settler in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, the attacker then fled and the settler was moderately injured.

In another alarming development on Sunday, Israeli police said it had arrested a Palestinian worker in southern Israel's coastal city of Ashkelon, who admitted that he was planning to carry out a suicide bombing in the city.

On Friday, Israeli settlers vandalized a Muslim mosque in northern West Bank, raising Palestinian protests against the settlements and its residents.

The trend of violence has been increasing since the suspension of peace talks due to Israel's continuation of settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians recognize as their future state's capital.

At odds with an earlier initiative to halt settlement activities for 10 months, the Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu approved a controversial plan to increase funding for several settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

For the Palestinians, the plan is "a step on the way of keepingand expanding the settlement," President Mahmoud Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rdineh said.

The funding of the settlements after classifying them as Israel's national priority zones "refutes the Israeli claims about suspending the settlement temporarily," Abu Rdineh was quoted by the official Wafa news agency as saying.

The grim future of the peace process adds another domestic challenge to President Abbas since he is now locked in a power struggle with Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip.

The Islamic Hamas movement reiterated on Sunday it will not recognize an Egyptian initiative to reconcile with Abbas's Fatah party as long as its reservations are not reflected.

"Hamas is sticking to its position not to sign any paper contradicting its believes and hopes that the points we opposed are considered," Khalil al-Hayya, a Hamas official, told reportersin Gaza.

Hamas, completely opposes a peace deal with Israel, is celebrating its 22nd anniversary Monday and plans to draw as many people as possible to its rally to convey a message to Abbas that Hamas is popular in Gaza.

Source: Xinhua
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