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West Bank settlers reportedly throw stones at U.S. diplomats

West Bank settlers reportedly throw stones at U.S. diplomats investigating complaints by Palestinians

A U.S. diplomatic convoy was attacked Friday in the West Bank by Jewish settlers throwing rocks, Israeli news reports said.

Diplomats from the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem had arrived to investigate accusations by Palestinians in the village of Turmus Ayya that settlers had uprooted thousands of olive tree saplings in recent weeks, the reports said.  The settlers were from a nearby illegal outpost called Adei Ad.

A confrontation reportedly broke out when the diplomatic vehicles were pelted with rocks. It was not immediately clear how American security personnel responded, though some reports said they drew their weapons. No one was injured in the incident.

The area has seen recurring clashes between Palestinian villagers and outpost residents. Last month, senior Palestinian Authority official Ziad Abu Ein collapsed and died after an altercation with Israeli troops trying to block Palestinian protesters from approaching the outpost. Participants in a protest of nearby settlements were planting olive trees, an important and symbolic crop among West Bank residents, activists said.

Residents of Turmus Ayya and three other Palestinian villages recently petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to demand the removal of Adei Ad, which had been erected without Israeli government authorization. The request cited illegal construction on privately owned land and repeated acts of vandalism to trees and fields.  

Separately Friday, the Palestinian Authority formally submitted to the United Nations documents in the quest to join the International Criminal Court in The Hague, as well as 15 other international conventions and treaties. The move came two days after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed the papers to join the Rome Statute granting access to the court.

The Palestinians have threatened to use the court to pursue war crimes charges against Israel.

The filing capped a tense week of diplomatic efforts by the Palestinian Authority and followed a failed bid at the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution setting a three-year deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and establishment of a Palestinian state.

Israel strongly rejects the Palestinian moves as a diplomatic onslaught designed to unilaterally force a settlement on it and circumvent direct negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded harshly to the recent Palestinian moves.

Sobelman is a special correspondent.

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