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PA holds military funeral for convicted terrorist

US refuses to condemn EU settlement boycott

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18 Jul 2013 (All day)
PA holds military funeral for convicted terrorist

The Palestinian Authority held a military memorial ceremony with full honors in Ramallah on Wednesday for Ahmed Abu al- Sukkar, a member of the Fatah political faction who spent several years in an Israeli prison for his involvment in the 1975 “refrigerator bombing” in Jerusalem’s Zion Square, which killed 14 Israelis and wounded most than 60 other. The 78-year-old Abu al- Sukkar died of a heart attack on Tuesday night. Following the ceremony in Rammalah, during which several prominent PA officials eulogized the deceased terrorist, he was buried in his home village of Turmus Aiya, north of Ramallah. Meanwhile, PA officials told reporters on Wednesday US Secretary of State John Kerry has made “significant progress” in his efforts to re-start peace talks between Israel and the PA.

“For the first time, President Mahmoud Abbas heard some encouraging and positive things from Mr. Kerry,” said one official, who predicted that talks could resume as early as August, after the Moslem holiday of Ramadan.

Kerry held several meetings with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA officials this week in Amman, Jordan. Both officials also met with senior officials in the Arab League.

“Israel needs to look hard at (the 2002 Arab League peace initiative) which promises Israel peace with 22 Arab nations and 35 Muslim nations – a total of 57 nations that are standing and waiting for the possibility of making peace with Israel,” Kerry told reporters. “We have been able to narrow these gaps very significantly. And so we continue to get closer, and I continue to remain hopeful that the sides can soon be able to come and sit at the same table.”

“Israel never rejected the plan,” one Israeli official said. “Our position has been nuanced.”

Elsewhere on Wednesday, there were signs of US pressure on Israel, as a State Department spokesman declined to condemn a recent EU decision to codify a full economic boycott of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

When asked by the Jerusalem Post about the issue, a State Department press contact said “the US position on settlements is clear and has not changed, we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.”

“If the Europeans pressure us, there is no reason to make gestures to the Palestinians,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud Beytenu). “Now we will need to end the freeze in construction in Judea and Samaria to compensate the residents for what they will lose from the EU decision.”

“By deciding unilaterally that the border will be on pre-1967 lines with Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, they shot themselves in the foot once again,” agreed Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud Beytenu). “They put yet another obstacle in the way of the peace process. They should have seen that the ball was in the Palestinians’ court, not in ours.”

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