Israel’s Netanyahu to undergo surgery, peace talks on track

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will undergo a hernia operation, his office said late on Saturday, a procedure that appeared unlikely to disrupt plans to advance peace talks with the Palestinians next week.

2013-08-10T211234Z_1_CBRE9791MXI00_RTROPTP_3_ISRAEL Israel's Netanyahu to undergo surgery, peace talks on track

A statement said Netanyahu, 63, would be hospitalized overnight for the surgery after he complained of abdominal pain. The procedure was expected to take an hour and could require general anesthetic, but Netanyahu could be discharged on Sunday afternoon, the statement said.

Netanyahu had been scheduled to convene cabinet ministers on Sunday to finalize the first stage of a release of Palestinian security prisoners designed to foster peace talks revived last month by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The prime minister’s office said that while Sunday’s routine cabinet session would be postponed, a ministerial committee vetting the prisoner amnesty would still meet, chaired by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

That would likely pave the way for a second round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations scheduled to take place on Wednesday in Jerusalem.


Israeli troops kill unarmed Palestinian on Gaza border

Israeli troops killed a Palestinian who crossed in from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Saturday, fearing he was a security threat though he proved to be unarmed, military sources said.

The man, who was not immediately identified, had first drawn soldiers’ suspicions by digging into the ground on the Gazan side of the fortified border fence, where Palestinian gunmen have in the past mounted ambushes, an army spokeswoman said.

He then clambered over the fence, carrying an item that the troops could not see clearly, she said. They shot him dead after he ignored their calls to turn back as well as warnings shots.

The army spokeswoman did not give further details on what the Palestinian was carrying. An Israeli military source said, however, that no weapons were found on him.

While the Gaza-Israel border has been a flashpoint of fighting, especially during flare-ups such as the November mini-war in the coastal enclave, such violence has abated recently.

In an effort to isolate the hostile Islamist Hamas government, Israel controls commercial traffic across the border, contributing to economic hardship in Gaza. Palestinians there have on occasion sought to slip into Israel for work.