Amid tension in the West Bank after yesterday’s killing of four Jewish settlers, the EU has joined the US in calling on Israelis and Palestinians not to let the attack derail crucial peace talks.
The shooting happened on the eve of direct negotiations between both sides.
Palestinian security forces say they’ve detained dozens of Hamas activists, after the Islamist movement’s military wing claimed responsibility.
The funerals of the four Israelis began with a ceremony in the West Bank. They were shot in their car; one was a pregnant woman. Hamas described it as a ‘heroic operation’.
The main settlers group has vowed to restart construction work in the West Bank in protest. Some regret the potential damage to the peace process.
“I wish I could believe in the chance that the peace talks will go somewhere,” said one settler, “but regretfully if I look at the past 15-20 years it seems that every time that there is an attempt for peace talks, that causes a flare-up in violence as we saw regretfully last night.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has offered security assurances to Israel as the met prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington ahead of the talks.
The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who also condemned the attack, has stressed that any further settler expansion and the first face to face talks for 20 months with Israel will be off.
In Gaza hundreds of Hamas supporters celebrated the killings, which happened after a relative lull in violence. It was the most lethal attack on Israelis in the West Bank for four years.
The shooting confounded recent signals from Hamas that it would deter militants from resuming attacks on Israel.