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After a violent weekend, officials say they aim to deescalate tensions in West Bank

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Officials in the Middle East, along with the U.S., are backing a new plan for keeping violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank from escalating further. Palestinian gunmen have killed three Israelis, and Jewish settlers went on a deadly riot and arson rampage in a Palestinian village. NPR's Daniel Estrin reports.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Even as negotiators from around the region propose steps to de-escalate months of roiling violence, new mayhem broke out in the West Bank. On Sunday, Israel says a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli settlers at close range in their car. Then, according to the military, three or four hundred Israeli settlers, some armed, rioted in the nearby Palestinian village, calling out revenge. Here's one of the many videos from the evening.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting in non-English language).

ESTRIN: Officials said settlers set fire to 10 homes and hundreds of cars. A Palestinian man was shot and killed; it's unclear if by Israeli troops or settlers. His family says the man had just gotten back from Turkey, where he was volunteering with earthquake relief efforts. Police say they arrested eight Israelis. All were released except for two under house arrest. A member of Israel's right-wing government actually praised the rampage. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did the opposite.

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PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: (Speaking Hebrew).

ESTRIN: Netanyahu said, "there is no room for anarchy." He said Israel's security forces are the ones that will avenge the fatal shooting.

Then today, a Palestinian gunman killed another motorist, an Israeli American. All this has erupted as Israeli and Palestinian officials met in Jordan Sunday, along with American and Egyptian officials. They issued a statement committing to de-escalating tensions, and Israel committed to a temporary freeze on new settlement discussions. Netanyahu then vowed there was no freeze. State Department spokesman Ned Price pressed both sides to keep their commitments.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NED PRICE: The entire world is now able to see what the parties agreed to, and the entire world will be able to determine for themselves whether there is broad adherence.

ESTRIN: Officials say their main goal is calm ahead of April, when Jews and Muslims gather in Jerusalem for Passover and Ramadan.

Daniel Estrin, NPR News, Jerusalem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Daniel Estrin is NPR's international correspondent in Jerusalem.

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