BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Middle East
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Paul Adams in Jerusalem
"In this bitter conflict revenge is all too common"
 real 56k

The BBC's Hilary Andersson
"All this comes at the worst possible time"
 real 28k

Nabil Abu Rudaineh, Spokesman for Yasser Arafat
"We are facing a very serious situation"
 real 56k

Yassa Ben-Ari, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman
"Not a performance acceptable by any Western democracy and we condemn that"
 real 56k

Monday, 15 January, 2001, 16:12 GMT
Killing prompts Gaza clampdown
Israeli settler and soldiers
Israeli settlers have set alight to Palestinian's fields following the killing
Israel has sealed off the Gaza Strip following the death of a Jewish settler in the Palestinian territory.

Main roads have been blocked and the airport shut, just days after the last closure was lifted.

In another development, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian man during conflict in the town of Salim, near Nablus on the West Bank.

The killings reverse the progress made during last week's delicate negotiations.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, said the death of the settler was a "terrible blow for the peace process".

Israeli settlers and elderly Palestinian
There are about 200,000 settlers in the West Bank and Gaza

The Israelis have already cancelled high-level diplomatic talks that had been scheduled for Monday.

Palestinian negotiators have since accused Israel of time wasting, as the two sides try to produce an agreement prior to the end of President Clinton's term on 20 January, or at least before Israel's 6 February election.

"The cancellation of the meeting and the procedures taken in Gaza are not a sign of seriousness from their side," said Palestinian negotiator, Ahmed Qureia.

Palestinian officials said that they were later contacted by their Israeli counterparts and told that the meeting would take place on Tuesday.

The new shutdown came hours after Israeli troops found the body of Roni Tzalah in a field near the Palestinian-controlled town of Khan Younis.

The settler had been abducted outside the Kfar Yam settlement on Sunday, prompting a massive search by Israeli forces.


A preliminary Israeli investigation said three or four Palestinians had taken him from his greenhouse and bundled him into his own car. The vehicle was later found burnt out in a Palestinian-controlled area.

A group affiliated to the extremist Islamic group Hamas has claimed responsibility for killing the settler.

Ehud Barak urged to step down

In the past, Israel has responded to the killings of Israeli citizens with air strikes.

During Sunday's search, Israeli forces dropped flares and blocked roads. Fighting broke out, and two Palestinian policemen were injured.

Israeli officials said they had received some limited co-operation from the Palestinian Authority in the search for the man. But they added that the Palestinian Authority was responsible for locking up Hamas militants.

On Monday, troops set up military checkpoints, and no Palestinians were allowed in or out of the Gaza Strip, except for humanitarian reasons.

Palestinian police said Israeli forces had deployed tanks along the main roads and closed the entrances to Gaza City.

Election looms

The latest developments are a serious setback to efforts to reach a peace agreement before the Israeli prime ministerial election in three weeks' time.

On Sunday evening former Prime Minister Shimon Peres urged supporters to stop campaigning for Prime Minister Ehud Barak to pull out of the election and let Mr Peres run instead.

However, despite his appeal, a large advertisement appeared in a newspaper on Monday urging Mr Barak to step aside.

Reported American proposals
Israel to concede sovereignty over much of East Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque
Palestinians give up the right of return for Palestinian refugees
Palestinian state on 95% of the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza Strip

Hoping to resolve the current impasse in the peace process, Mr Peres met with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Saturday night.

It was the highest-level contact between the two sides since November, and covered ways to end the violence, as well as US proposals for a peace deal.

The Americans have outlined suggestions for solving the key issues, including the sovereignty of Jerusalem and the nature of a future Palestinian state.

More than 360 people, the vast majority of them Palestinians, have been killed since a Palestinian uprising began in late September.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

13 Jan 01 | Middle East
Palestinians execute informers
11 Jan 01 | Middle East
Likud seeks peace on its terms
31 Dec 00 | Middle East
Barak: It's me or war
08 Jan 01 | Middle East
Israelis stake claim to Jerusalem
04 Jan 01 | Middle East
Arab rulers cool on Intifada
23 Oct 00 | Middle East
Claiming the 'Promised Land'
15 Jan 01 | Middle East
Israelis 'barred' from Egypt pilgrimage
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories