Agence France Presse (AFP)
October 16, 2008 - 8:00pm

Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian and wounded another early on Thursday near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian emergency services reported.

Abdul Aziz Beerat, 20, was killed when Israeli soldiers in a jeep opened fire in the village of Kafr Malik, northeast of Ramallah, the sources said.

Another man, who was not identified, was shot in the back and taken to hospital, where his condition was listed as serious.

An Israeli military spokesman said soldiers saw the silhouettes of three Palestinians preparing to throw incendiary devices and opened fire after the men ignored an order to give themselves up.

Beerat was the third Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in three days.

Abdul Kader Zeid, 17, died after being shot outside the Jewish settlement of Beit-El late on Tuesday, medics said. The army said soldiers had opened fire at a man who was brandishing a petrol bomb.

Mohammad Al Ramahi, 21, died overnight from chest injuries incurred in clashes with Israeli soldiers following Zeid’s funeral near the Jalazun refugee camp, Ramallah hospital officals and witnesses said.

An army spokesman said dozens of Palestinians rioted near an army post, hurling rocks and burning tyres.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat denounced “an Israel escalation against civilians”.

“It looks as if the Israeli army has received instructions to carry out an escalation in the Palestinian territories,” he said.

At least 537 people have been killed since Israel and the Palestinians formally relaunched US-backed peace talks in November, the vast majority of them Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip, according to an AFP count.

Meanwhile, four members of the Islamic Jihad were arrested early Thursday in the northern West Bank, an army spokeswoman told AFP.

“All four were wanted and were arrested during the night for questioning. Two bombs, each with 20 kilos of explosives, were found in their possession and defused,” she told AFP.

‘Abbas, Olmert will not meet as announced’

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas will not be meeting for a new round of peace talks on Friday as was announced earlier this week, Erekat said.

“There will not be a meeting tomorrow,” Erekat told AFP on Thursday, adding that discussions were under way to fix a date for one.

On Monday, Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Al Malki had said a meeting would be held on Friday, but Olmert’s office never confirmed.

Olmert and Abbas have been meeting about twice a month since the peace process was relaunched at a US conference in November.

Hounded by a series of corruption scandals, Olmert formally resigned on September 21 after the governing Kadima Party elected Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as its new leader.

Livni is trying to form a new coalition government so she can also take over as prime minister and avert early elections.

Last month, Olmert said Israel must give up almost the entire occupied West Bank including east Jerusalem as the price for peace with the Palestinians.

But he later said the comments, made in a newspaper interview, reflected his private view and were not binding for Livni.


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