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Palestinian official dies in confrontation with Israeli troops
by Staff Writers
Turmusayya, Palestinian Territories (AFP) Dec 10, 2014

Israeli-Palestinian security coordination: a thorny issue
Jerusalem (AFP) Dec 11, 2014 - After a senior Palestinian official died in a confrontation with Israeli troops in the West Bank, speculation arose that the Palestinians might cancel security coordination with Israel.

Established under the 1993 Oslo peace accords, the coordination involves the sharing of intelligence between the two sides. What is shared, and how it is done, is a closely guarded secret.

For Israel, it is considered crucial for keeping close tabs on Islamist group Hamas and its West Bank members, and Israeli media say cooperation has foiled numerous potential attacks.

It has severely dented the popularity of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who threatened that "all options" were on the table in response to the death Wednesday of Ziad Abu Ein.

In June, Israel rounded up hundreds of Hamas members in the West Bank following the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers, which it blamed on Hamas.

The mass arrests inflamed tensions and hardened Palestinian criticism of Abbas and his Palestinian Authority.

The Oslo accords stipulated security coordination between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) of late leader Yasser Arafat.

That broke down during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising (2000-2005), but was revived under Arafat's successor Abbas.

The accords directly established the Palestinian Authority's security branches: the civilian police; general intelligence, which covers domestic and international portfolios; civil defence, for emergency and rescue; preventative security, which handles political crime; and the National Security Force.

The National Security Force includes border police, navy, military police, military intelligence, customs police, aviation police, and the elite presidential guards.

Some observers say the coordination works to advantage of the PA, which is dominated by Hamas's bitter rivals, Abbas's Fatah party.

Kerry travelling to Rome Sunday to meet Israeli PM
Washington (AFP) Dec 10, 2014 - US Secretary of State John Kerry will head to Rome on Sunday for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Palestinians push for swift UN action urging an end to the Israeli occupation.

Kerry and Netanyahu "will discuss a number of issues, including recent developments in Israel, the West Bank, and Jerusalem and the region," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

A top focus of the talks will be the Palestinian call for a United Nations resolution by the end of the year that would set a timetable for Israel's withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory.

The push comes against a backdrop of calls from several European parliaments pressing their governments to recognize full Palestinian statehood, as prospects look bleak for a resumption of peace talks with Israel.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said Tuesday: "We are hoping to achieve this resolution before the end of the month, before Christmas as a matter of fact."

Kerry's dogged nine-month pursuit of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in early April amid bitter recriminations on both sides.

Speaking on Sunday to a Washington forum also addressed by the Israeli leader, Kerry vowed: "I won't give up."

But he acknowledged that, after Netanyahu called snap elections in March, it was unlikely any fresh peace negotiations could "resume tomorrow."

"There is an election in the next few months now in Israel, and the Israeli people will have important choices to make for their future," Kerry told the Saban Forum, organized by the Brookings Institution.

A senior Palestinian official died Wednesday after he was struck by Israeli forces during a protest march in the West Bank, prompting international calls for an investigation into the incident.

The Palestinian leadership vowed to respond to what president Mahmoud Abbas called the "brutal assault" on Ziad Abu Ein, who was in charge of the issue of Israeli settlements for the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Abbas summoned an emergency session of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, amid speculation he could suspend longstanding security cooperation between the PA and Israel.

"All options are open for discussion and implementation," he said. "A decision will be made tonight."

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon expressed regret for the death of Abu Ein and said an Israeli military inquiry had been launched.

"Security stability is important for both sides," he said in a statement.

European Union foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said reports of excessive use of force by Israeli troops were "extremely worrying", and demanded an "immediate, independent" inquiry.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on Israel "to conduct a swift and transparent investigation into the circumstances of the brutal death," of Abu Ein.

A former PA deputy minister, Abu Ein, 55, was the most senior Palestinian official to die in a confrontation with Israeli forces in recent years.

His death was "a barbaric act that cannot be tolerated or accepted," Abbas said, declaring three days of mourning.

Neighbouring Jordan condemned the incident as "a crime" and denounced "clear evidence of human rights violations by the Israeli army".

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in April despite a concerted diplomatic drive by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Washington said Wednesday that Kerry would head to Rome on Sunday to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on issues including "recent developments in Israel, the West Bank, and Jerusalem and the region".

- Olive trees protest -

The confrontation erupted as Abu Ein took part in a march of about 300 Palestinians who intended to plant olive trees as a symbolic act of protest against Israeli settlements, an AFP photographer said.

The group was confronted by Israeli soldiers and paramilitary border police in the West Bank village of Turmusayya. Tear gas was fired, three soldiers grabbed Abu Ein and he was struck in the chest, the photographer said.

Abu Ein fell and an Israeli army doctor rushed to treat him before he was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Israeli military said it had proposed a joint investigation with the Palestinians.

A statement said Israeli forces had been confronted with "approximately 200 rioters".

"Forces halted the progress of the rioters... using riot dispersal means," the statement said.

It said an Israeli pathologist would be joining a delegation of pathologists from Jordan to examine the incident.

Amnesty International said Israeli forces had a long history of excessive force.

"The Israeli forces have an abysmal track record when it comes to policing protests and have frequently resorted to the unnecessary or excessive use of force against protesters in the West Bank, resulting in numerous unlawful killings," it said in a statement.

- Stop security coordination -

The Islamist movement Hamas, the de facto ruler in the Gaza Strip, issued a statement mourning Abu Ein's death and calling on the Palestinian Authority to cease security coordination with Israel.

"The time has come to rally all our forces in facing the criminal Zionist occupation and stop all sorts of security coordination with the occupation," a statement said.

Hours later, near Ramallah, Israeli troops shot and seriously wounded a 14-year-old Palestinian in the head during a clash at Jelazoun refugee camp, Palestinian security officials and medics said.

The officials said the clash erupted in response to the death of Abu Ein.

Abu Ein was extradited from the United States in 1981 over the killing of two Israelis in 1979 and sentenced to life in prison, but released in 1985 in a prisoner exchange.

Beside his role monitoring Israeli settlements, Abu Ein was a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and previously served as deputy Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs.

His death follows months of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and a wave of unrest in the West Bank and Arab east Jerusalem.

Israelis are on edge after recent "hit-and-run" car attacks by Palestinians that killed five people, as well as an assault last month that saw two Palestinians burst into a Jerusalem synagogue, leaving four rabbis and a policeman dead.

The tensions have been heightened by Israeli announcements of new settlement construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

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