Israeli soldiers kill two Palestinians in West Bank clashes
Los Angeles Times
JERUSALEM — Two Palestinians were killed in separate clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank early Thursday, Palestinian sources reported.
According to an Israeli army statement, Israeli forces were carrying out a “preplanned” operation in the town of Qalqiliya to apprehend a militant cell responsible for recent shootings. After being fired at, soldiers returned fire that resulted in the death of a Palestinian man, army officials said.
The Palestinian news agency Maan identified the man as Samir Abd al-Rahman Yassin, a 28-year-old member of the Palestinian security forces. Locals told the outlet Yassin was shot “in cold blood” and left to die.
In a separate incident, Israeli soldiers entered the Jenin refugee camp to arrest a militant member of the Islamic Jihad. According to Israel’s military, the forces were attacked with live fire and grenades before opening fire that killed Nafa Jamil A’sadi, a 22-year-old Hamas member. Seven other Palestinians were injured in the fighting.
Local media reported the clashes erupted when the soldiers’ cover as television technicians was exposed. They retreated after the clashes without the suspect they sought to arrest.
The incidents come at a sensitive time for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, ahead of reported U.S. plans to present both sides with a framework agreement at the end of January.
In recent weeks, U.S. security envoy to the talks Gen. John Allen presented the parties with a planned outline of security arrangements for gradual implementation of a two-state solution.
Palestinians have fiercely criticized the plan as favoring Israeli security demands at the expense of future Palestinian sovereignty and questioned the United States’ role as an honest broker.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently sent U.S. President Barack Obama a firm but informal memorandum listing reservations about the security outline as well as Palestinian positions on core issues, including borders, settlements and Israel’s demand for recognition as a Jewish state, according to Haaretz.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Wednesday it was possible to reach a basic framework agreement for gradual implementation by the end of April, and a full peace treaty within the following year.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is reportedly working to avert the next potential crisis in the talks by pressing Israel to refrain from announcing settlement construction plans following the next release of Palestinian prisoners, slated for Dec. 29.
Past releases of Palestinian prisoners from jails in Israel were followed by high-profile announcements of Israeli plans for large-scale settlement expansion, leading Palestinian negotiators to quit and threatening to derail the talks altogether.
The European Union has also cautioned Israel that such an announcement could cause the talks to collapse.
European criticism of Israel’s settlement policy has complicated business deals. In one case, the Dutch water firm Vitens backed out of an agreement with Israel’s Mekorot water company following pressure from shareholders. In another case, the government of Romania refused to approve sending construction workers to Israel without guarantees they would not be sent to work in settlement projects.