After the violence of the past few weeks, senior officials from Israel and the Palestinians met for the first time in a long time. At the meeting in the Jordanian city of Aqaba on the Red Sea, both sides pledged to calm the situation and prevent new violence. This emerges from a joint final declaration that was published after a meeting.
Another meeting agreed for March in Egypt
A “direct dialogue” had been agreed, reported the Jordanian state agency Petra. Israelis and Palestinians wanted to suspend “unilateral measures” for three to six months, it said. Israel pledged not to discuss building new settlements in the West Bank for four months and not to approve new settlement outposts in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory for six months. The conference participants also pledged to work towards a “just and lasting peace”. Both sides also agreed to maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which does not allow Jews to pray there, it said.
Government officials from the United States and Egypt also took part in the talks, which were mediated by Jordan. The US was represented by President Joe Biden’s Middle East adviser, Brett McGurk. Another meeting has been scheduled for next month in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Radical Palestinian groups refused talks
The militant Palestinian organization Islamic Jihad, the radical Islamic Hamas and other militant groups were not involved in the talks. They had rejected the talks in Jordan. Hamas, which rules Gaza, and the organization Islamic Jihad are classified as terrorist organizations by Israel, Germany, the European Union, the United States and several other countries.
Attack overshadows summit meeting in Aqaba
The security situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories is extremely tense. Two Israeli settlers were killed in a suspected Palestinian attack in the West Bank this Sunday. According to Israeli sources, a Palestinian fired on the two Israelis’ cars in the town of Huwara, south of Nablus. The perpetrator is being sought.
After the attack, there were serious riots in the town and the surrounding area in the evening. Israeli television reported that settlers set fire to Palestinian homes, shops and cars. A Palestinian was fatally injured by gunfire. It remained unclear whether these were handed over by settlers or soldiers.
According to Palestinian sources, eleven Palestinians died and more than 100 people were injured during a raid by the Israeli military on Wednesday, which was looking for three Palestinians suspected of terror in Nablus in the West Bank. The cities of Nablus and Jenin in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory have been particularly hard hit by these raids. The two cities are considered strongholds of militant Palestinian groups. The Israeli army keeps looking for militant Palestinians there who are suspected of “terrorist activities”.
13 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks in Israel since the beginning of the year. On the Palestinian side, more than 60 people died during raids by Israeli security forces or because they were shot after attacks.
Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. More than 600,000 Israeli settlers live there today. The Palestinians claim the areas for a future independent state of Palestine with the Arabic-influenced eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital.
qu/kle/ww (dpa, rtr, afp)