Friday, April 12, 2024

Palestine, Israel pledge to implement measures to curb violence

Palestinian and Israeli officials have agreed on steps to de-escalate surging violence after talks in Jordan.

In a joint statement at the end of the meeting in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba on Sunday, Israeli and Palestinian officials stated that they would work closely to prevent “further violence” and that they “reaffirmed the necessity of committing to de-escalation on the ground”.

Israel was committed to stop “discussing setting up any new settlement units for four months and stop approving any new settlements for six months”, a joint statement said.

After “thorough and frank discussions”, the Palestinian and Israeli sides “reaffirmed the need to commit to de-escalation on the ground and to prevent further violence”, it added.

The joint statement came at the end of a meeting also attended by US, Egyptian and Jordanian officials amid growing concerns over an escalation of violence in the run-up to the holy Muslim month of Ramadan that begins in late March.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority stressed “joint readiness and commitment to work immediately to stop unilateral measures” for three to six months, according to the statement.

Host nation Jordan, along with Egypt and the US, considered “these understandings as major progress towards re-establishing and deepening relations between the two sides”, the statement read.

The two sides also agreed to meet again next month in Sharm el-Sheikh in Eqypt.

The Hamas group, which governs the besieged Gaza Strip, condemned the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority for taking part. An official from the group stated the meeting was “worthless” and would not change anything.

The ruling Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had earlier defended the meeting.

“The decision to take part in the Aqaba meeting despite the pain and massacres being endured by the Palestinian people comes from a desire to bring an end to the bloodshed,” it said on Twitter.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power at the head of one of the most right-wing coalitions in Israeli history has added to Arab concerns about escalation.

The occupied West Bank is home to about 2.9 million Palestinians plus an estimated 475,000 Israelis who live in state-approved settlements considered illegal under international law.

Israeli forces have killed 65 Palestinians, including 13 children, this year so far. They have also injured hundreds of others, making the first two months of 2023 the deadliest for Palestinians compared with the same period since 2000.

Eleven Israeli civilians, including three children, a police officer and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed over the same period.

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

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