WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States insisted Monday that no meeting planned as part of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace process had been cancelled, despite claims to the contrary.
“I can assure you that no meeting has been cancelled,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters, following reports a session had been cancelled after Israeli forces shot dead three Palestinians.
Earlier, a senior Palestinian official had told AFP talks that had been due to be held in Jericho later on Monday had been put on hold because of what he termed this “Israeli crime committed in Qalandiya today.”
The U.S. State Department, which is mediating the talks process and has representatives attending, denied this, but refused to say whether or not such a meeting had taken place.
“As we have said the parties are engaged in serious and sustained negotiations,” Harf said. “We are not going to announce when every meeting takes place. But again I can assure you that no meeting has been cancelled.”
Medics in the West Bank said three Palestinians were shot dead and 19 wounded by Israeli security forces in the Qalandiya refugee camp early on Monday.
A spokesman for the Palestinian president, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said the incident “shows the real intentions of the Israeli government,” and called on the U.S. government to “take serious and quick steps” to prevent the collapse of peace efforts.
An Israeli police spokeswoman said border police used “riot dispersal means” against a crowd of 1,500 people who threw stones and petrol bombs to protest the arrest of a suspect.
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.
Over the weekend, Palestinian sources had said they expected a new round of talks to be held Monday in Jericho on the West Bank but there was no official confirmation in line with a U.S.-imposed news blackout.