SCOTT SIMON, Host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
In the past, almost any fighting between Israelis and Palestinians would have almost certainly derailed any efforts toward peace, but two deadly attacks in the region this week may actually signal a change in that attitude. Early this week 120 Palestinians were killed when Israel struck against Palestinian rocket launchers in Gaza. On Thursday, a Palestinian gunman killed eight students at a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem.
Still, both governments have agreed to continue peace negotiations, but the process is on shaky ground at best. Joining us now is Dion Nissenbaum, Jerusalem bureau chief for McClatchy newspapers. Thanks so much for being with us.
SIMON: Hi Scott, thanks for having me.
SIMON: Israel says it will continue to participate in the talks, but there's still some trouble signs, aren't there?
SIMON: Yeah, there's a lot of troubling signs here as you mentioned. Jerusalem just had its deadliest day in four years. And Gaza last weekend had its deadliest day in years. And so when you, sort of, look at the facts on the ground, as we like to call them, the trends are going in a very negative direction and the peace talks have been really slugging along very slowly. And I think that as the sense that the process is going nowhere grows, you are going to see more and more frustration on the ground.
SIMON: There have been conflicting reports on whether Hamas was responsible for the attack on the Jewish seminary. Certainly Hamas has spoken in favor of it. What effect could that have on Hamas being included on talks between Israel and other parties?
SIMON: Well I don't think anybody's likely to include Hamas in the talks even if they don't claim responsibility. Ultimately the Israeli government is fairly adamant, and I think the United States government is as well, that if they include Hamas in talks or open talks with Hamas on cease-fire, it would undermine their efforts to negotiate a deal with Abu Mazen - President Mahmoud Abbas - who is basically is, you know, the moderate leader in the region.
So even on the smaller issue of a cease-fire in Gaza, there's really not a lot of momentum there.
SIMON: Thousands of people turned out in Jerusalem for the funerals of the seminary students. So I wonder if I could get you to talk about that.
SIMON: I'd say it was a fairly stunning attack for Jerusalem. It is the first kind of attack like this in more than four years. And there was sort of a growing sense in Jerusalem that, you know, maybe these kind of attacks have passed in the last year or so, especially you have sort of a return of life on the streets here; cafes and restaurants, people sitting outside in a way that you, you know, not have seen at all during the Second Intifada.
I could see on the faces of my Israeli colleagues at the scene a sense of shock and a fear that we could be heading back into another cycle where these things become more and more common. And we're too early, really, to know whether, you know, we're heading for the worst, the Third Intifada or something like that. But really when we look at all the trends, it's certainly not positive.
SIMON: Dion Nissenbaum of McClatchy newspapers from Jerusalem, thanks very much.
SIMON: Thanks then.
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