Hamas targets Israeli-Palestinian talks by killing four Israelis
Hamas took responsibility for the fatal shooting of four Israeli settlers outside Hebron today, on the eve of Israeli-Palestinian talks in Washington.
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The attack appeared to be an attempt to spark violence that could undermine the peace negotiations and was a stark reminder that the Islamist Hamas movement remains an important force in Palestinian politics, no matter how much either the Israelis or the Palestinian Authority's Mahmoud Abbas wish they would go away.
Analysts say that after more than a year of US diplomacy and an improvement in security in the West Bank, the summit in Washington won't be jeopardized by an isolated attack.
"The scale of it is not large enough and in terms of relations with America and the international community, the government of Israel is most likely to decide to continue," says Meir Javedanfar, a Tel Aviv-based Middle East analyst. "A future attack against Hamas will be more justifiable for Israel if Netanyahu stays in Washington. To break off the talks because of such an attack would be giving Hamas and their backers in Iran a major victory."
The attack came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas had departed the region for the US talks.
Hamas takes responsibility
The shooting took place near the entrance of the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, which neighbors Hebron. According to the Haaretz news outlet, those killed – four adults, including a pregnant woman – were from Kiryat Arba and the nearby settlement of Beit Haggai.