A tense standoff between Israel and the Palestinians on a Gaza road ended Friday with both sides pulling back from the brink of violence but trading verbal blows that made a peace deal seem even more elusive.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a Palestinian blockade of what he called an Israeli security route in the Gaza Strip had been an attempt "to use force" unilaterally to change agreed rights of passage in the strip."This, I'm afraid, is a very major violation of the Oslo understandings," he said in a speech to ambassadors to Israel.
Netanyahu said the confrontation underlined Israeli security concerns delaying the handover of more West Bank land to the Palestinians under U.S.-brokered negotiations.
"You can also understand how sensitive we are to the issue of redeployment which would place tens of thousands of Israelis, including tens of thousands of Israeli children, at great peril anytime the Palestinians decided to violate the agreements which are in place, as they did last night," he said.
Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat warned Netanyahu against trying to use the Gaza incident as an excuse not to reach a deal on a further Israeli pullback in the West Bank.
"If he continues his policies then things will remain very tense as a result."