International Middle East Media Centre:
Just hours after the Palestinian Chief Negotiator, Ahmed Qureia, and the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem, their envoy was attacked by Israeli forces invading Ramallah.
Mu'atasam Sharif al-Mahdi, a member of the Palestinian Presidential Guard, and a top-ranking security official, was killed by Israeli gunfire near Ramallah. Israeli sources claim that al-Mahdi was carrying a (licensed) handgun, which made Israeli soldiers mistake him for a fighter.
But Palestinian eyewitnesses report that the soldiers gunned down al-Mahdi in cold blood.
"Israel has proven once more that it does not want the security plan the Palestinian Authority is implementing in the West Bank to succeed. Israel does not want stability in the West Bank”, said another top Palestinian security official.
The Palestinian security forces of Mahmoud Abbas have been working hard over the last several weeks to fully implement a U.S. and Israel-mandated security plan, in which thousands of Palestinian security guards have been deployed throughout the West Bank. The security forces have found it extremely difficult to deploy, with Israeli military forces still in full occupation of Palestinian land.
The meeting Thursday brought no promises from the Israeli side, despite full cooperation from the Palestinian negotiators. Israeli officials have announced this week that they plan to greatly expand settlements throughout the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank this year – in direct violation of promises the officials made in a U.S.-led one-day peace talk in Annapolis in late November.
Meanwhile, Israeli invasions and attacks on Palestinian civilians continue on a daily basis.