JERUSALEM, (Reuters) – Israel has suspended talks with the Palestinians on allowing bus convoys between Gaza and the West Bank, despite a deal brokered by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israeli political sources said on Thursday.
Widening its response to a suicide bombing that killed five Israelis, Israel notified the United States of its decision to pull out of the negotiations until Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas acts against militants, the sources said.
The agreement reached during Rice”s visit in November led to the Palestinians taking control of the main Gaza-Egypt border crossing and also called for bus convoys to start next week and truck convoys to begin in January using a "safe passage".
A U.S. embassy spokesman in Tel Aviv declined comment.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch was due to arrive later on Thursday and was expected to try to bring the sides back to the bargaining table.
Washington is seeking renewed peace moves following Israel”s Gaza withdrawal in September.
Israel”s suspension of the talks was part of its response to Monday”s bombing at a shopping mall in the coastal town of Netanya.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has also approved strikes on militant leaders and a West Bank military clampdown, including restrictions on Palestinian movement in the occupied territory.