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Israel warns of violence if peace talks fail

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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JERUSALEM – With an Israeli-Palestinian impasse on settlement construction set to come to a head this weekend, the Israeli military chief said Tuesday that new Palestinian violence could erupt if peace talks collapse.

The Palestinians are threatening to quit the talks unless a 10-month restriction on settlement construction is extended beyond its planned expiration on Sunday. Israel says it cannot be extended, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would likely face coalition trouble if he backed down.
Netanyahu on Tuesday warned the Hamas movement — which rejects peace with Israel, has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, and already carried out one deadly attack this month — against a new round of violence.
Speaking near a community center in southern Israel where a rocket from Gaza recently exploded, he said Israel would continue to respond swiftly. “I don’t recommend they test our determination in this matter,” he said.
Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the country’s top soldier, told lawmakers that the military was bracing for possible mass protests and clashes.
He added, however, that the low expectations for a peace deal could mean any violence would be less intense than the Palestinian uprising that erupted after the failure of the ambitious Camp David summit in 2000 and led to years of Israeli-Palestinian violence characterized by suicide bombings and Israeli army incursions killing thousands.
“We must be prepared for every possibility,” he told parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, according to meeting participants who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with protocol. “If talks fail, there could be riots.” (AP)