World Bulletin / News Desk
At least five Palestinians were reportedly injured by rubber bullets, including a paramedic, as Israel riot forces attempted to disperse demonstrators in Silwan, East Jerusalem, on Sunday.
Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces have clashed after Jewish settlers marched in the Arab neighbourhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem.
The clashes come as U.S. Middle East envoy ended a three-day talks on Sunday with no sign of any breakthrough, but he said he would return next week.
The rightwing settlers, who staged the march on Sunday, want Palestinians removed from the area and their homes pulled down.
Dozens of Palestinian protesters closed off the entrance to the Al-Bustan neighborhood, the site of discord, hurling stones and setting fire to tires as Israeli police attempted to disperse the gathering, Palestinian news agency reported.
Discord broke out in the Al-Bustan neighborhood in Silwan early on Sunday between Palestinian residents and Israeli police near a protest tent erected ahead of a far-right Israeli rally in the area.
Palestinian men pelted Israeli forces with stones, who responded by deploying riot dispersal means, which often includes rubber bullets, tear-gas and stun grenades.
Fatah's Jerusalem official Hatem Abdul Qader was reportedly detained at the entrance to Wadi Hilwa en route to Silwan by Israeli police. Rosenfeld said he would look into the report.
Meanwhile, residents in Silwan said hundreds of border guards, officers and riot police, as well as intelligence agents deployed at the neighborhood's entrance, ahead of the march.
Early Sunday, locals said five Silwan residents were detained after homes were searched, one of whom was identified as Mousa Baydoun.
Silwan residents flooded the streets in efforts to prevent the march from going ahead. Palestinian flags were hung in the windows and dozens of shoes were scattered in the streets as a symbol of protest.
Israeli paper quoted Jawad Siyam, the director of the Silwan Information Centre, as saying, "the march did not only serve the goals of the settlers, but also of the Israeli government.
"The goal is to expel the Palestinian population of Silwan," he said, noting that 300 Israeli settlers lived in the neighborhood surrounded by 55,000 Palestinians.
Israel has repeatedly refused the calls from US administration and international community to end the ongoing settlements on the occupied Palestinian lands.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, briefing his cabinet on his meetings with George Mitchell, said it would soon become "clear" whether peace talks suspended since December 2008 would get under way.
"We will know in the coming days whether the process will get under way. I hope that it will indeed get under way," he said in public remarks at the cabinet session.
In a statement summing up his visit, Mitchell said he held "positive and productive talks" with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an effort "to improve the atmosphere for peace and for proceeding with proximity talks", a reference to indirect, U.S.-mediated negotiations.
The Palestinians have demanded a settlement freeze for resumption of peace talks.
Palestinian sources told Reuters news agency, Mitchell proposed a "compromise" in which the Palestinians would begin indirect talks in return for an unwritten commitment by Washington to assign blame publicly to any party that took action compromising the negotiations.
The formula appeared to envisage a situation in which Israel would quietly delay implementing some settlement projects in and around East Jerusalem, without declaring a freeze.
Mitchell said in the statement that his deputy, David Hale, would remain behind to work with the parties this week to prepare for his return to the region next week.
The World Court has ruled all settlements illegal under international law. Palestinians, who want their own state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, see the settlements as a land grab as an occupier "state".
On Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that Obama should impose a peace deal but rejected the idea of establishing a state within temporary borders.
Abbas's appeal to Obama came amid widespread media reports that the U.S. president was considering floating a proposal that would set the contours of a final peace deal.
"Since you, Mr President and you, the members of the American administration, believe in this, it is your duty to call for the steps in order to reach the solution and impose the solution - impose it," Abbas said.
"But don't tell me it's a vital national strategic American interest ... and then not do anything."
Mitchell has invited Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to meet Obama in Washington next month to discuss those efforts, according to chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat.
There has so far been no announcement from Netanyahu's office on whether a similar invitation has been extended to the Israeli leader.
Washington has made no official statement on a forthcoming visit by either leader.