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Middle East talks delayed

Jerusalem - A meeting between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed, an official said, after a fatal shooting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed on Palestinian leaders.

“The meeting that was planned for tonight between Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams will not be taking place. It's being postponed,” the Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. File picture: Uriel Sinai. Credit: Associated Press

The official declined to explain the decision, but said Monday's killing of an Israeli police officer in the West Bank “was the direct result of ongoing incitement and glorification of terrorism that we see in the official Palestinian media and education system”.

On Monday evening, 47-year-old Baruch Mizrahi, a high-ranking officer in the intelligence division, was shot dead while driving with his family south-west of Idhna, a village outside Hebron.

Israel's army and police were still hunting for the suspected gunman on Wednesday, after carrying out extensive searches around Idhna.

Netanyahu said the “assassination is the result of the incitement to hatred by Palestinian Authority leaders who continue to peddle hate-filled material against Israel”.

Palestinian officials told AFP the meeting was being postponed to Thursday to allow for the arrival of US mediator Martin Indyk to the region.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met on Sunday, and held a trilateral meeting with Indyk on Thursday in a bid to try and save a stagnant peace process from crumbling.

The talks hit an impasse two weeks ago when Israel refused to release as agreed a group of Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinians retaliated by seeking accession to several international treaties.

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