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Israel, Palestine peace meeting postponed

U.S. Secretary John Kerry revived the peace talks last July, after a 3-year hiatus

Published: Updated:

A meeting scheduled for Wednesday between Palestinian and Israeli peace negotiators has been postponed, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Palestinian leaders for the killing of an off-duty Israeli policeman which took place in the West Bank on Monday.

Palestinian and Israeli negotiators were set to meet in an attempt to extend peace talks beyond their April 29 deadline, the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday.

“The meeting that was planned for tonight between Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams will not be taking place. It’s being postponed,” the Israeli official told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity.

The official did not provide reasons for the rescheduling, but said Monday’s incident “was the direct result of ongoing incitement and glorification of terrorism that we see in the official Palestinian media and education system.”

Baruch Mizrahi, a 47-year-old high-ranking officer in the intelligence division, was shot dead while driving with his family.

The policeman’s wife and child were also wounded. Israel’s army are still looking for suspects in an extensive search operation.

“The parties are working on determining if there’s a path to extend the negotiations for a period of months past April 29,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday, when the meeting was first announced.

Palestinian officials told AFP the meeting has been postponed until Thursday, awaiting the arrival of the U.S. mediator Martin Indyk.

The peace talks seemed close to collapse earlier in April, when the Israeli side refused to carry out a promised release of Palestinian prisoners. Israel reneged on the release unless it received an assurance that the Palestinian authority would continue the talks beyond the deadline.

In return, the Palestinians signed on to 15 international conventions, including the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war and occupations, a defiant move that also impeded the talks and surprised the U.S.

U.S. Secretary John Kerry revived the peace talks last July, after a hiatus lasting about three years.

Borders, security, the fate of the Palestinian refugees and the future of Jerusalem, the city which both sides claim is their capital, are the main issues that need resolving during the talks.

(With Reuters and AFP)