As Mideast Peace Efforts Accelerate, Violence Returns to East Jerusalem

Palestinian violence is on the rise in Jerusalem, and ironically, the stepped-up diplomatic activity on the Middle East peace process may be responsible.

Several weeks ago, Police Minister Ronni Milo boasted that Jerusalem police had succeeded, in a short period, in effecting a 50 percent drop in violence in East Jerusalem.

It seems he spoke too soon. Or perhaps his words invited trouble.

Within weeks, as it became increasingly likely that Israel would enter peace talks with the Arab states and the Palestinians, the streets of the eastern part of the capital once again became the scene of Palestinian violence.

Until two weeks ago, Jerusalem police were registering some 60 incidents of intifada violence per week. The number then escalated to 80 such incidents, and in the past week more than 100 incidents of violence have been recorded.

As Israeli leaders insist that they will not negotiate on the status of East Jerusalem, the Palestinians appear to signal that there will be violence if peace talks do not include discussion of Jerusalem.

On Sunday, Police Minister Milo called a special session to review the growing violence and to discuss ways and means to decrease it.

Jerusalem’s district police commander, Haim Albaldes, has already issued orders to increase police presence in East Jerusalem, with a special emphasis on weekend activities.

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