Minister of Planning at the Palestinian National Authority (P.A), Dr. Ghassan Khateeb, said that the Gush Etzion shooting attack, carried by a Palestinian group on Sunday is counter productive and does not serve the Palestinian interests.
Al Khateeb stated that the timing of the attack, which preceded a planned meeting between the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, damages the Palestinian political stance and weakens the position of Abbas locally and internationally.
Also, Al Khateeb added that the attack is giving Israel the opportunity to operate in the Palestinian territories and intensify its restrictions on the movement of the Palestinian people by tightening its closure over the territories.
Following the Sunday’s Gush Etzion shooting attack, which left three setters dead, Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, said that the army will operate in the West Bank.
A senior Palestinian source reported on Monday that the Gush Etzion shooting will also have negative effects on the planned Abbas-Bush summit.
The source accused the group which carried the attack of attempting to sabotage the summit and the efforts of the Palestinian Authority to improve the situations in the territories.
Abbas started his tour on Sunday from Jordan, and headed to Egypt for a planned Monday meeting with the Egyptian president Hosney Mubarak. Abbas will also be heading to Paris, Madrid, and Washington.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that he decided to cancel his repeatedly postponed meeting with Abbas which was finally scheduled to take place next month.
Israel also decided to call off all of its meetings with the P.A, imposed a full closure in the West Bank on Monday after midnight, and invaded several Palestinians areas after installing roadblocks and sealing the Palestinian territories.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday that Israel wants to ‘send a very strong and sharp message to the Palestinians’ by suspending the meetings with the P.A.
On Monday, a P.A source said that Israel might use the shooting attack as an excuse to fail the Rafah Border Crossing agreement especially after it cancelled a meeting which was scheduled to take place on Sunday at night; the Israeli side informed the P.A that the meeting has been delayed until further notice.
Earlier on Monday at dawn, Israeli soldiers arrested at least 20 residents in the areas of Tubas, Jenin, Hebron, Ramallah and Tulkarem.