With Israel's construction freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank scheduled to end this weekend, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were seeking an elusive formula Wednesday to keep new peace talks going while both sides warned that if the talks ended, violence could erupt.
JERUSALEM — With Israel’s construction freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank scheduled to end this weekend, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were seeking an elusive formula Wednesday to keep new peace talks going while both sides warned that if the talks ended, violence could erupt.
As if to illustrate that warning, Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces in and around the Old City of Jerusalem after an Israeli security guard fatally shot a Palestinian resident of Silwan, an east Jerusalem neighborhood where a few hundred Jewish settlers live among tens of thousands of Palestinians.
The guard told police he opened fire in self-defense after being ambushed by stone-throwers early Wednesday. But Palestinians said there were signs the dead man, Samer Sirhan, 32, had been chased by the guard, and Palestinian spokesmen accused the Israeli settlers of carrying out provocations to divert international attention from the issue of Israeli settlement construction.
Sirhan, a father of five, was a member of Fatah, the mainstream Palestinian party engaged in the peace talks with Israel.
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After Sirhan’s death, crowds of Palestinians rampaged in east Jerusalem. At one point, Israeli riot police stormed the hilltop compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, the most explosive site in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the place where the last Palestinian uprising began almost 10 years ago.
Police said nine Israelis were hurt, including one who was stabbed. Three vehicles, including a police car, were torched, and two cars were overturned. The guard who opened fire was questioned and later released.
Material from The Washington Post is included in this report.