US State Department denies Israeli-Palestinian peace talks canceled
Relatives mourn the deaths of two Palestinians shot dead by Israeli troops, at a hospital in the West Bank city of Ramallah August 26, 2013. REUTERS photoThe U.S. State Department Aug.26 denied reports that U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians had been canceled following clashes in the West Bank, Reuters has reported.
"I can assure you that no meetings have been canceled," State Department spokeswoman Mari Harf told Reuters. "The parties are engaged in serious and sustained negotiations," she said.
Earlier on Monday, Israel's Haaretz newspaper quoted a senior Palestinian official as saying that the Palestinians had canceled talks with the Israelis after Israeli troops shot dead three Palestinians during an early morning raid to arrest a suspected militant in the West Bank.
Peace talks resumed last month after a three-year stalemate over Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israelis kill 3 Palestinians in West Bank clash: medics
Palestinian hospital officials said Rubeen Abed Fares, 30, and Yunis Jahjouh, 22, were both shot in the chest and Jihad Aslan, 20, 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, but she could not immediately confirm any fatalities or the use of live fire.
"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.
Palestinian sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said they expect the talks to be held Monday evening in the West Bank town of Jericho, but there has been no official confirmation from other side.
Speaking in Amman on Saturday after talks with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said he expected the next round to take place "a few days from now." "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 US administration to "take serious and quick steps" to prevent the collapse of peace efforts. 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.