JERUSALEM (AP) — While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dug in Wednesday against U.S. pressure for concessions to the Palestinians, violence claimed the lives of a Palestinian villager and a Jewish seminary student.
Within hours of the Jewish student’s stabbing, defiant seminarians set up tents on a patch of land in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, saying they would redouble efforts to establish a Jewish presence in Arab areas.
That set the stage for a potential confrontation with Palestinian neighbors.
The question of who lives where in Jerusalem is an explosive issue; both sides believe it will influence negotiations on Jerusalem’s final status.
Netanyahu, meanwhile, said he would reject an invitation to proposed Mideast talks in Washington next week if the Americans try to dictate the scope of an Israeli troop withdrawal from the West Bank.
The Clinton administration has offered to inaugurate so-called final status talks Monday in Washington between Israel and the Palestinians. But it first wants Israel to accept a U.S. proposal for a 13-percent pullback from the West Bank.
Israel has indicated readiness to go ahead with an 11-percent pullback, but right-wingers have vowed to bring down Netanyahu’s government if the withdrawal is larger than 9 percent.
Palestinians have accepted the U.S. plan, although it is far less territory than they hope for, and senior officials took a wait-and-see stance toward the proposed Washington talks.
Few details were available about the fatal shooting of a Palestinian near the Jewish settlement of Eli, where settlers have a running land dispute with nearby Palestinian villagers.