Israel and Palestine agree on measures to curb violence

Smoke from fires fills the air as Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday, February 22. (Photo: Majdi Mohammed/AP/File)

During negotiations in Jordan, Israeli and Palestinian officials vowed to implement measures to deescalate- the escalating violence.

Israeli and Palestinian officials said in a joint statement issued after their meeting in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba on Sunday that they will work closely to prevent "further violence" and "reaffirmed the necessity of committing to de-escalation on the ground."

A joint declaration stated that Israel agreed to stop "discussing the establishment of any new settlement units for four months and stop approving any new settlements for six months."

The Palestinian and Israeli sides "reaffirmed the need to commit to de-escalation on the ground and to prevent further violence" after "thorough and frank discussions," according to the statement.

The joint statement was issued after a conference attended by U.S., Egyptian, and Jordanian officials amid mounting fears over an escalation of violence preceding the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in late March.

According to the statement, Israel and the Palestinian Authority emphasized their "joint readiness and commitment to work immediately to stop unilateral measures" for three to six months.

The statement noted that Jordan, Egypt, and the United States viewed these agreements as a significant step toward re-establishing and enhancing relations between the two parties.

The parties agreed to meet again in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the following month.

The government of the confined Gaza Strip, Hamas, denounced the participation of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. An organisation representative stated that the meeting was "useless" and would not result in any changes.

Earlier, the dominant Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas supported the conference.

"The decision to participate in the Aqaba meeting despite the suffering and massacres endured by the Palestinian people stems from a desire to end the bloodshed," it wrote on Twitter.

Bezalel Smotrich, also responsible for Israeli settlements in the West Bank, stated swiftly that he would not comply with any deal to halt settlement expansion.

"I have no idea what was discussed in Jordan," Smotrich said on Twitter. "However, I am certain that building and development in settlements will not be halted for even a single day (under my authority)."

Al Jazeera's Sara Khairat said from West Jerusalem that while the Israeli side met with the Palestinian Authority at this meeting, it was "much to the chagrin of many Palestinians who have stated that these meetings accomplish nothing."

"With the new right-wing government, demolitions and incursions on occupied territories, including the West Bank and Jerusalem, have increased.

"They [officials at the meeting] agreed to deescalate tensions and maintain security at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since tweeted that settlements will not be frozen, which appears to contradict the statement released from the meeting in Jordan."

Two Israelis killed

Two Israelis were shot and murdered in the occupied West Bank in what the Israeli government termed a "Palestinian terror attack" on the day of the talks.

The fatal shooting occurred days after Israeli soldiers conducted the deadliest operation in the West Bank in nearly two decades, resulting in eleven Palestinians' deaths in the northern city of Nablus.

Arabs are more concerned about the escalation in light of Benjamin Netanyahu's return to power at the helm of one of the most right-wing coalitions in Israeli history.

Israel gave retroactive approval to nine Jewish settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank on February 12 and announced the construction of thousands of new units within existing settlements.

The United Nations Security Council issued a formal statement condemning Israel's intention to expand settlements on occupied Palestinian territory - the first move against Israel in six years.

Around 2.9 million Palestinians and an estimated 475,000 Israelis reside in state-approved settlements deemed illegal under international law in the occupied West Bank.

So far this year, Israeli soldiers have killed 65 Palestinians, including 13 children. In addition, hundreds of others have been injured, making the first two months of 2023 the worst for Palestinians since 2000.

According to AFP, eleven Israeli civilians, including three children, a police officer, and a Ukrainian civilian, were murdered simultaneously.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967.

Publish : 2023-02-27 09:41:00

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