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30 injured in new West Bank clashes

Netanyahu cancels planned trip to New York

June 14, 1997
Web posted at: 1:02 p.m. EDT (1702 GMT)

HEBRON, West Bank (CNN) -- Hundreds of Palestinian demonstrators using stones and firebombs clashed with Israeli police in the West Bank town of Hebron Saturday. Thirty Palestinians were slightly injured by rubber bullets.

Also Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to cancel a planned trip to the United States. But aides discounted reports that the trip was postponed because of the faltering state of the peace process.

The latest clashes may have been triggered by a non-binding resolution passed Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives, which called on President Bill Clinton to affirm that Jerusalem must remain Israel's undivided capital. The measure also called for moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Several demonstrators said they confronted the Israelis to protest that resolution, which deeply angered Palestinians who claim historically Arab East Jerusalem as their capital. The sector was captured by Israel from Jordan in a 1967 war and is home to more than 100,000 Palestinians.

On Friday night, Palestinian gunmen shot and wounded a female Israeli motorist at Har Adar, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank north of Jerusalem, according to Israeli security sources. The woman was reported in stable condition Saturday.

After the drive-by shooting, Israeli troops made several arrests in the Biddu village. A curfew was imposed on the village of Qatannah.

Netanyahu aides: Domestic politics scuttled trip


Netanyahu was to have left for New York on June 21 to attend U.N. functions. Israel's army radio reported that the prime minister canceled the trip because he had hoped to meet with Clinton but now wanted to avoid the meeting due to the faltering state of the peace process.

"He thought he would arrive ... after a summit, after some sort of meeting with (Palestinian Authority President Yasser) Arafat," said Udi Segal, the radio's diplomatic reporter.

But Netanyahu spokesman Ofir Akunis said the trip had been canceled due to domestic political considerations -- in particular, pending legislation on who may perform conversions to Judaism in Israel. Another aide, Shai Bazak, termed the radio report "not correct."

Resolution contradicts longstanding U.S. policy

The U.S. House resolution contradicts the position of the Clinton administration and previous U.S. presidents that the ultimate future of Jerusalem must be determined through negotiations.

Palestinian leaders warned that the United States is risking its credibility as a sponsor and mediator of the peace process.

"If the United States approves this resolution ... the whole peace process will be lost and we will be pushed away from this process," said Faisal Husseini, the senior Palestinian official in Jerusalem.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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