Printable Page Headline News   Return to Menu - Page 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 13
Violence Flares as Kerry Visits Israel 11/24 06:40

   JERUSALEM (AP) -- A Palestinian motorist rammed his vehicle into a group of 
Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint on Tuesday, wounding three, Israel's 
military said, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited for the first time 
in over a year, hoping to calm two months of deadly violence.

   Kerry touched down amid a new rash of deadly attacks that have dampened any 
lingering hopes of renewed peace negotiations between Israel and the 
Palestinians during the Obama administration's final year. Ahead of his trip, 
Kerry conceded he was coming without the ambitious agenda of past visits and 
was primarily focused on stemming the violence.

   "There can be no peace when we have an onslaught of terror, not here, not 
anywhere else," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as he welcomed 
the chief American diplomat.

   With Netanyahu nodding, Kerry said Israel had a right and obligation to 
defend itself and that "no people anywhere should live with daily violence, 
with attacks in the streets with knives, with scissors, with cars." At the same 
time, he said he would speak with the Israeli leader about how "to push back 
against terrorism, to push back against senseless violence, and to find a way 
forward to restore calm and begin to provide opportunities."

   Kerry will travel to the West Bank for discussions with Palestinian 
President Mahmoud Abbas later on Tuesday.

   The current spate of violence erupted in mid-September over tensions 
surrounding a sensitive Jerusalem holy site and quickly spread across Israel 
and into the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Nineteen Israelis have been killed, 
mostly in stabbings. Israeli fire has killed 89 Palestinians. Israel says 57 of 
these were attackers, while the rest died in clashes with security forces.

   The past week has been the deadliest thus far.

   A Palestinian fatally stabbed an Israeli soldier at a West Bank gas station 
Monday before being killed along with two other Palestinian attackers. Five 
people were killed in stabbing and shooting attacks on Nov. 19, including Ezra 
Schwartz, an 18-year-old from Kerry's home state of Massachusetts.

   Amid so much violence, Kerry said Monday he would be traveling to Israel and 
the Palestinian territories without any "highfalutin, grandiose, hidden 
agenda." Instead, he was seeking steps "that could calm things down a little 
bit so people aren't living in absolute, daily terror."

   But the attacks renewed as quickly as Kerry landed.

   At the West Bank checkpoint Tuesday, the Israeli military said a Palestinian 
motorist rammed a group of soldiers, lightly wounding three of them. It said 
the attacker was shot and wounded at the scene.

   Kerry's broader concerns haven't changed, however, and he is likely to ask 
both sides to avoid provocative actions. For the Israelis, that means holding 
off on the construction of new settlements in lands the Palestinians seek for 
their future state. For the Palestinians, it means ending incitement to 

   Kerry has visited Israel and the Palestinian territories only once since the 
collapse in April 2014 of a nine-month peace process he led. He traveled back 
three months later during a war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.

   In recent months, Kerry and other U.S. officials have suggested a renewed 
peace push might be possible. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton made 
unsuccessful attempts at brokering a two-state solution during their final 
months in office. But the rising death toll seems, for now, to have created an 
environment that makes a similar commitment by President Barack Obama unlikely.

   Kerry told reporters traveling with him in the Middle East that the U.S. was 
prepared to re-engage in a serious peace effort, and said "we have ideas for 
how things could proceed."

   "But this street violence doesn't provide any leader with a framework within 
which they can look their people in the eye and say, 'There's a reason to be 
sitting down and talking about this or that,' " he added. "People aren't in the 
mood for concessions. They're in the mood for being tough."

   Showing no signs of softening, Netanyahu told Kerry that Israel would fight 
"every hour" against those committing and inciting violence, linking his 
government's efforts to the international campaign against the Islamic State 
group and other extremist forces.

   "It's not only our battle; it's everyone's battle," he said. "It's a battle 
of civilization against barbarism."

   Abbas, for his part, has provided no indication that he wants to restart 
direct peace talks with the Israelis anytime soon.

   Israel says the recent violence stems from Palestinian incitement and 
incendiary videos on social media. The Palestinians say it is rooted in 
frustration over almost five decades of Israeli occupation and little hope for 
obtaining independence. Palestinians also accuse Israel of using excessive 
force, saying some attackers can be stopped without being killed.


Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Powered By DTN