A meeting between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed after the killing of an Israeli in a shooting attack in the West Bank.
A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the session had been rescheduled for Thursday at the request of the United States. Washington is struggling to extend the talks, on the verge of collapse, beyond an April 29 deadline for a peace deal.
An Israeli official confirmed the meeting had been delayed but declined to say who asked for the postponement or when teams would reconvene to try to breathe new life into the US-driven peace process.
In the first official Palestinian reaction to Monday evening’s terrorist shooting in the southern Hebron hills, Endowments Minister Mahmoud Al Habash told Israeli reporters in Ramallah that he was “pained” by the murder.
“We condemn the killing of all people irrespective of their background,” Al Habash was quoted as saying by Army Radio. “The idea of killing and violence is completely illegitimate.”
In the immediate aftermath of Monday’s incident, which killed Ch.-Supt. Baruch Mizrachi, the Israeli government blamed the Palestinian Authority’s “campaign of incitement” which it says motivated the murder.
On his Facebook page, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday accused the PA of “financing the murder of Jews.”
The attack re-ignited calls from within Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party to take a tougher approach to peace talks with the Palestinians. Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon told Israel Radio on Wednesday that Netanyahu should order Israeli negotiators not to meet with their Palestinian counterparts until the Palestinian Authority officially issues a condemnation of the killing.