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Palestinians Invited to Poland Meeting as Teens Die in Gaza Border Protests

Palestinians Invited to Poland Meeting as Teens Die in Gaza Border Protests

Friday, 8 February, 2019 - 18:30
Two Palestinian teenagers are killed by Israeli fire during Gaza border protests. (Reuters)

Palestinian officials have been invited to next week’s Middle East conference hosted by Poland and organized by the United States, a senior US official said on Friday.


White House senior adviser Jared Kushner will discuss plans for peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, he added, while informing reporters that the event was "not a negotiation but a discussion" on Middle East peace.


“As noted, we have asked the Palestinian Authority to send representatives to this event," the official said.


Kushner, who is US President Donald Trump's son-in-law, will also take part, the official said, and he "will discuss the administration's efforts to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians and also take questions from the audience."


"We would very much welcome the Palestinian Authority's perspectives during the discussion, but I do want to emphasize this is not a negotiation but a discussion, and we look forward to fostering a constructive conversation in Warsaw," he added.


The State Department has said more than 40 countries will attend the conference in Warsaw from February 12 to 14.


Kushner has been working on a peace plan for more than a year. The Warsaw event will be one of the first occasions where he will discuss the plan publicly, although he is not expected to reveal any details.


In Gaza, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinian teenagers including a 14-year-old boy during border protests, said the health ministry in the coastal enclave.


Hassan Shalabi, 14, was killed by "live fire to the chest east of Khan Yunis" during protests along the frontier with Israel in the southern Gaza Strip, the ministry said.


It announced the death of 18-year-old Hamza Ishtawi shortly after, saying he was shot in the neck during similar clashes east of Gaza City.


Another 17 Palestinians were shot and wounded at different protest sites along the border, the ministry added.


The Israeli army declined to comment on the deaths, but said 8,200 "rioters and demonstrators" had been protesting along the frontier.


Palestinians in Gaza have for nearly a year gathered at least weekly along the border for often-violent protests, calling on Israel to end its blockade of the enclave.


Israel says it is protecting its borders and accuses the Hamas movement of orchestrating the protests.


At least 249 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since then, the majority shot during clashes, though others have been hit by tank fire or air strikes.


Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.


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