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Israel and Palestinians agree to de-escalate tensions and ‘prevent more violence’ ahead of holy month

Israel and the Palestinians agreed to de-escalate tensions, and “prevent further violence”.

On Sunday, the Israeli and Palestinian delegations met in Jordan to try to ease tensions before Ramadan begins on March 22.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed in a joint statement to stop new settlement approvals in occupied West Bank for a period of four to six more months.

Image: Israeli security forces on the scene of the shooting. Pic by AP

Representatives agreed to work for a “just, lasting peace” and to meet up again in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt next month.


The delegates from the United States, Jordan, and Egypt also attended the meeting. They said that they considered the agreement to be a “positive step towards reactivating, deepening, and strengthening ties” between Israel, Jordan, and Palestine.

Jake Sullivan, White House National Security Advisor, said that he was happy with the promises made by both sides and added: “We recognize that this meeting was a beginning point and that there are many work ahead of us in the coming weeks and month to build a stable, prosperous future for Israelis as well as Palestinians.”

A senior Israeli official stated that the parties would form a panel to review restarting Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation.

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Two brothers from Israel were killed by a Palestinian gunman as the negotiators met in the north West Bank.

The army was searching for the attacker, and Israel’s defense minister called for an increase in military presence on the West Bank.

Hamas is the militant group that holds the Gaza Strip and rejected the outcomes of the talks.

Dr Musa Abu Marzouq was a spokesperson for the group. He stated that the talks were held to stop the escalation in the following tracks. The first track is to delay the Israeli measures related to colonial settlements. The second track is to allow the PA more time control of the situation.

“If the PA is unable to control the situation, then the Israeli army could intervene. This move is not supported by us as it could lead to internal conflict in the Palestinian territories and because the PA was very weak when it entered these negotiations.

“In short, the PA should stand by the Palestinian people and condemn the Israeli crimes.”

Many people are not in the mood to be peaceful

On the surface, the statement from the Jordan talks is positive

Both sides have agreed that they will continue a direct dialog, which has been missing as tensions have escalated over recent months.

A six-month ban on settlement expansion in West Bank was also agreed upon. The Palestinian Authority will make greater efforts to reduce violence among its citizens.

In the next few weeks, another summit will be held in Egypt.

Although the Aqaba meeting was attended by senior officials, including the head Shin Bet, Israel’s national security advisor, as well as the head the Palestinian intelligence service, there are many voices from both sides that did not agree to the meeting and are not willing to support it.

Itamar Ben Gvir, an Israeli far-right Security Minister, has already tweeted that “what was in Jordan (if any) will stay in Jordan”.

Bezalel, the Finance Minister, has taken on greater powers to oversee the West Bank. He released a statement stating that “there will be no freeze on construction or development in the settlement, even for one hour (this is under my authority).

Hamas dismissed the summit as meaningless.

Add to that, protests against Israeli officials meeting with Palestinian counterparts in the West Bank last night make it appear that many are in precarious positions and not ready for peace.

Just weeks away, the Muslim holy month Ramadan will be celebrated. It also coincides with Jewish Passover.

It could quickly escalate if no immediate steps are taken to end violence on both sides.

A security official in Israel described the next months as “the perfect hurricane” to me recently. Without any major reversal, his prediction is looking very bleak.

Escalating violence

It happened days after an Israeli military attack in a nearby Palestinian town left 10 Palestinians dead, most of them militants. Two people aged over 60 died in the raid, while a 66 year-old died due to tear gas escalation.

Since a series of Palestinian attacks in spring last year, violence between Israelis has increased. Israel responded by intensifying its raids on the West Bank.

According to the Associated Press, more than 60 Palestinians were killed in West Bank and East Jerusalem this year.

13 Israelis were killed in Palestinian attacks on Israelis this year.

Ramadan falls on the same week as Passover, a Jewish holiday that lasts for a week. Both faiths’ worshippers are expected to gather at the holy sites of Jerusalem’s Old City, which can often be a flashpoint for violence.


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