An Israeli soldier stands guard next to the body of a Palestinian who carried out a stabbing attack against two Israeli soldiers, killing one of them before being shot dead, on the West Bank on November 23, 2015
An Israeli soldier stands guard next to the body of a Palestinian who carried out a stabbing attack against two Israeli soldiers, killing one of them before being shot dead, on the West Bank on November 23, 2015 © Gil Cohen Magen - AFP
An Israeli soldier stands guard next to the body of a Palestinian who carried out a stabbing attack against two Israeli soldiers, killing one of them before being shot dead, on the West Bank on November 23, 2015
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Joe Dyke, AFP
Last updated: January 1, 1970

Kerry to hold talks with Israeli, Palestinian leaders

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Jerusalem Tuesday for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in a bid to ease weeks of bloodshed, but hopes for a breakthrough are faint a day after four people were killed.

Kerry will hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin while in Jerusalem, then meet separately with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah.

His visit comes after nearly two months of violence that has left 92 Palestinians dead, including one Arab Israeli, as well as 17 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean, and sparked fears of a new Palestinian uprising.

More than half of the Palestinians killed have been alleged attackers, while others were shot during demonstrations and clashes with Israeli security forces, including along the Gaza border.

The stabbings, shootings and car rammings have overwhelmingly been carried out by so-called "lone wolf" attackers, making it harder for Israel to predict where and when the next assault will come.

Three Palestinians -- including a teenage girl -- and an Israeli soldier died on Monday in the latest violence.

Palestinians blame changes to the status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound -- Islam's third most-holy site but known to Jews as Temple Mount -- as the spark for the bloodshed.

Israel has repeatedly denied it is seeking to change the current rules, under which Jews and Christians can visit but only Muslims can pray at the site.

- 'Concrete steps' -

Netanyahu has come under pressure to tighten security and on Monday he announced stricter controls on Palestinian vehicles and an increase in so-called "bypass roads," which create separate routes for Palestinians and Israeli settlers.

During a visit to a West Bank settlement that has been the scene of numerous attacks, he also said work permits would be withdrawn for families of alleged attackers and pledged there would be "no limits" on the powers of Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.

Israel has already adopted the controversial policy of demolishing the homes of attackers, which it says acts as a deterrent.

On Monday evening, the Israeli army launched an air raid on the Gaza Strip after the Islamist movement Hamas fired a rocket into southern Israel, sources from both sides said, adding that no one was hurt.

Against this backdrop, Kerry's visit will focus on ending the current violence and improve conditions on the ground.

The top US diplomat has repeatedly called for both sides to take "concrete steps" to reduce tension, end provocative rhetoric and ensure access to Jerusalem holy sites, but his words have had little impact on the ground.

There is also little optimism he will be able to convince the Palestinian and Israeli leaders to resume peace talks, which broke down more than 18 months ago.

"There's no agreement to be reached between the parties right now," one senior US official said.

- Fresh violence -

On Monday, an Israeli soldier was stabbed to death while another was seriously wounded in the same attack at a petrol station on the edge of the occupied West Bank. The assailant was shot dead at the scene.

"A Palestinian murdered an Israeli and wounded another in an attack at a gas station on route 443," the Israeli army said, referring to a main road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that passes in part though the West Bank.

A military spokeswoman said one of the soldiers, a man named as 18-year-old Ziv Mizrahi, had died while the other, a female officer, had been wounded and evacuated for medical treatment.

Earlier in the day, one teenage girl was killed and another seriously injured when they attacked an elderly man in Jerusalem, police said, the first stabbing in the city for nearly two weeks.

Security camera footage appeared to show the girls -- apparently cousins aged 14 and 16 -- in school uniform chasing a man with scissors before being shot by a member of the security forces.

The man they targeted was identified as a 70-year-old Palestinian, possibly confused for an Israeli Jew, who suffered light injuries.

In another attack, a Palestinian was shot dead when trying to stab an Israeli soldier near Huwara to the south of Nablus.

A Palestinian, identified by the health ministry as 16-year-old Khalil Hashash, was shot dead when trying to stab an Israeli soldier near Huwara to the south of Nablus.

An 18-year-old Palestinian woman, identified by medical sources as Samah Abdullah, was shot and severely wounded in the same attack, apparently by accident.

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