Israel PM Netanyahu curbs contacts with Palestinians
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told his ministers to stop high-level meetings with their Palestinian counterparts.
The order follows “Palestinians’ violation of their commitments under peace talks”, officials said.
It comes after a request by the Palestinians to join 15 UN treaties and conventions as a state party.
Correspondents say Mr Netanyahu’s action has dealt another blow to the faltering US-brokered peace process.
The government officials said Israel’s chief peace negotiator, Tzipi Livni, would be an exception from the PM’s edict. Defence and security officials will also be allowed to continue to engage with the Palestinians, according to reports.
Otherwise, only low-level co-operation will be permitted. On Tuesday, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said the US would continue to promote the talks despite recent setbacks.
He blamed both sides for taking “unhelpful” steps.
The peace talks resumed in July under US auspices after a three-year hiatus.
The Palestinians were furious when Israel did not sanction the release of a fourth batch of prisoners, as agreed in principle under the terms on which the Palestinians returned to peace talks last year. The Palestinians wanted the group to include a number of Israeli Arab prisoners.
They were further angered by Israel’s approval of about 700 new settlement units in East Jerusalem.
Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and formally annexed the area in 1980. BBC
Benjamin Netanyahu said that for the most part, only lowlevel cooperation could continue, according to reports