Clashes continue as Peace Process crumbles

HEBRON, West Bank (AP) — Hundreds of Palestinians hurled stones and bottles Saturday at Israeli troops, who fired back with rubber bullets in an hours-long clash that was interrupted occasionally to let people pass. Seven protesters and one Israeli border policeman were injured.
The close-quarters conflict in Hebron occurred near a Jewish settlement and was apparently spontaneous, reflecting anger over the stalled peace process.
It came as Palestinians denounced Israel’s latest stance on Jewish settlements and troop deployments, and accused U.S. envoy Dennis Ross of siding with Israel.
Ross’ mission ended Friday with Israel dismissing earlier pledges to Palestinians on West Bank troop withdrawals and announcing new settlement-building plans.
The Palestinian Cabinet accused Israel on Friday of “pushing the already volatile situation of the region to the brink of disaster” by expanding Jewish settlements and refusing to implement three promised troop redeployments.
Netanyahu’s government has been under heavy pressure from right-wingers in his coalition to not hand back more land to the Palestinians, and his dovish foreign minister, David Levy, departed after accusing the government of dragging its feet in the peace process.
Netanyahu said troop withdrawals depended on the Palestinian Authority meeting Israeli conditions, especially cracking down on militant groups.
During Ross’ four-day visit, the Netanyahu government revealed tentative plans to double the number of homes in Jewish settlements over the next two decades.
“Obviously he has been unable to effect any change in the Israeli attitude,” Palestinian Higher Education Minister Hanan Ashrawi said of Ross. “We did not see any effective political will from Dennis Ross … to hold Israel accountable.”