Israeli forces killed a member of the Palestinian group Hamas during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, witnesses and medics said. A spokesman for Israel's paramilitary border police said its troops were in Jenin as part of a predawn operation against suspected militants, when they saw a Palestinian preparing to throw a pipe bomb at them and shot him. "He was shot by a unit providing covering fire for the unit that he was about to attack," the spokesman said. Jenin residents and hospital officials said the 23-year-old Palestinian was shot in the back. They said there were no wider confrontations at the time with the Israeli troops. Hamas, which has a limited presence in the West Bank though it exercises de facto control over the other Palestinian territory of Gaza, claimed the dead Palestinian as a member. On a Hamas website, the group said he was killed after coming out of a mosque after prayers there. The Israeli border police spokesman said the Jenin raid was not coordinated in advance with the security forces of U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which operate in parallel in West Bank cities.
Despite the previous statements of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, saying that Israel may launch peace talks with Hamas, Israel's defense minister said on Tuesday he did not believe a stable peace agreement could be reached with the Palestinians in his lifetime - one of the bleakest assessments from a top-level cabinet member since talks collapsed last year.
Moshe Yaalon, one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's closest allies, accused the Palestinians of having "slammed the door" on efforts to keep discussions going, and said they had rejected peace-for-land deals for at least 15 years. His comments, in a speech to a strategic conference, were dismissed by a Palestine Liberation Organization official who told Reuters that Netanyahu's administration bore the blame for the impasse. Peace negotiations broke off in April 2014, with disputes raging over Israeli settlement building in occupied land Palestinians seek for a state and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's unity deal with Hamas. "As for the possibility of reaching an agreement ... there is someone who says he doesn't see one during his term," Yaalon said, referring to remarks U.S. President Barack Obama made in an Israeli television interview last week. "I don't see a stable agreement during my lifetime, and I intend to live a bit longer," Yaalon told the Herzliya Conference, held annually near Tel Aviv.
Palestine Liberation Organization official Wasel Abu Youssef told Reuters past and present Israeli governments had "closed the political horizon" by demanding to retain major settlement blocs and rejecting a right of return for Palestinian refugees. Youssef said Netanyahu's administration bore responsibility for the current impasse through its settlement activities, refusal to release jailed Palestinians and demand Palestinians recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.