RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators expected on Monday have been cancelled after Israeli security forces shot dead three Palestinians during clashes in the West Bank, a Palestinian official said.
“The meeting that was to take place in Jericho … today was cancelled because of the Israeli crime committed in Qalandiya today,” the official told AFP, referring to the refugee camp where the clashes erupted before dawn.
He did not set a new date.
“What happened today in Qalandiya shows the real intentions of the Israeli government,” Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, told AFP as reports of the shooting started to emerge.
He called on the U.S. administration to “take serious and quick steps” to prevent the collapse of peace efforts.
Medics reported three Palestinians shot dead and 19 wounded by Israeli security forces in Qalandiya camp, between Ramallah and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, very early Monday.
They named the dead as Rubeen Abed Fares, 30, and Yunis Jahjouh, 22, both shot in the chest, and Jihad Aslan, 20, who died of brain damage.
The hospital officials said all the casualties had been hit by live ammunition.
An Israeli police spokeswoman said that border police used “riot dispersal means” to disperse a stone-throwing crowd of 1,500 people.
“In the early hours of the morning a border police team went into Qalandiya camp to arrest a hostile terrorist activist,” spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP.
“After his arrest a mob of about 1,500 residents began a disturbance, throwing petrol bombs and stones, endangering the lives of force members, who responded with riot dispersal means,” she said.
An army spokeswoman said that troops did not participate in the initial arrest raid but were sent in to extricate the border police.
“An army force was called to help them,” she told AFP. “They were obliged to use live fire to protect themselves, and according to preliminary reports two [Palestinians] were killed and others were wounded.”
The peace talks formally resumed this month after a hiatus of nearly three years, thanks to an intense bout of shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Palestinian sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, had at the weekend said they expected a new round of talks to be held Monday in the West Bank town of Jericho, but there had been no official confirmation from either side, in accordance with a U.S.-imposed news blackout.
The talks have been overshadowed by Israeli plans to build more than 2,000 new homes for Jewish settlers on occupied Palestinian territory.
On Sunday, Jerusalem city council’s finance committee approved a budget of $17.3 million (13 million euros) for infrastructure work at the site of the planned new east Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo.
The site hit the headlines in March 2010, when Israel sparked the ire of the US administration by announcing, during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden, that 1,600 new homes would be built there.
“The daily killings and ongoing settlement activity are all Israeli messages that aim to destroy the peace process,” Abu Rudeina said.