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Palestinian kills 4 Israelis on eve of peace talks
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Education Minister Gideon Saar, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, denounced the shooting. “This is not the first time, especially with peace talks in the background, that the automatic Palestinian reaction is terror attacks against Israelis,” he told Israel’s Channel 10 TV.
The attack disrupted a relative lull in the West Bank. The last fatal attack occurred in June, when Palestinians opened fire on a police vehicle near Hebron and killed one officer.
It was the deadliest Palestinian attack against Israelis since March 2008, when a lone assailant gunned down eight students in a Jerusalem rabbinical seminary.
Opposition to resuming talks is also coming from within the Palestine Liberation Organization, an umbrella group headed by Mr. Abbas. Some Fatah activists threaten to try to depose him if he makes concessions, and several hard-line PLO groups plan a demonstration in the West Bank administrative capital of Ramallah on Wednesday to protest resumption of negotiations.
A previous U.S. launching of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks was also accompanied by deadly violence. Palestinian gunmen shot and killed an Israeli in the West Bank before then-President George W. Bush convened Israeli and Palestinian leaders for a summit in Annapolis, Maryland, in November 2007. The gunmen said the attack was “an act of protest against the Annapolis conference.”
Talking to reporters on his plane heading for Washington, Abbas called for decisive American involvement in the talks.
He said that if the two sides reach a deadlock, the Obama administration should “present bridging proposals to bridge the gap between the two positions.”
In one major challenge to the first direct talks between the sides in two years, Abbas warned it would be difficult to continue negotiating if Israel fails to extend a 10-month curb on West Bank settlement construction that ends in late September. Netanyahu has not made a final decision.
Associated Press writer Robert Burns contributed to this report from Washington.
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