Jordan to host Israel-Palestine talks as violence escalates

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Jordanian official says the talks in Red Sea port of Aqaba is part of an effort to halt ‘a security breakdown that could fuel more violence’.

Jordan is set to host a meeting between top Israeli and Palestinian officials in a bid to halt a surge in deadly violence in the occupied West Bank that has stoked fears of a wider escalation, according to officials.

The meeting on Sunday will be held in the Red Sea port of Aqaba and will be attended by representatives from the United States and Egypt.

The planned talks come days after Israeli forces carried out a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus that killed 11 Palestinians. The death toll in Wednesday’s raid was the highest since the second Intifada of 2000-2005.

The intensifying violence has killed 62 Palestinian adults and children since the start of this year. Ten Israelis and a Ukrainian tourist have died in the same period. The United Nations meanwhile said last year was the deadliest period for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since 2006, with Israeli forces killing 171 Palestinians, including 30 children, in that period.

A Jordanian government official, speaking to the AFP news agency, said Sunday’s “political-security meeting is part of stepped-up ongoing efforts by Jordan in coordination with the Palestinian Authority and other parties to end unilateral measures [by Israel] and a security breakdown that could fuel more violence”.

The talks aim to agree “security and economic measures to ease the hardships of the Palestinian people,” said the official, who requested anonymity.

The Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed Jordanian official as also saying that “such a meeting has not happened in years … It’s a major achievement to get them together.”

Earlier this month, Jordan’s King Abdullah met US President Joe Biden and held talks with his Middle East envoy Brett McGurk in which Washington — a staunch ally of Israel, Egypt and Jordan — warned of the threats to regional security and lobbied for a resumption of stalled talks on Palestinian statehood. McGurk is set to take part in Sunday’s meeting, according to officials.

King Abdullah also met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jordan’s capital, Amman, in January.

The king stressed “the need to maintain calm and cease all acts of violence”, the royal palace said at the time.

Abdullah also reaffirmed Jordan’s position in support of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians to end the decades-old conflict.

Jordan has been concerned about stepped-up Jewish settlement building, and has accused Israel of trying to change the status quo in Jerusalem’s holy sites. Israel denies the allegation.

Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war, territories the Palestinians seek for an independent state.

Palestinian statehood talks have been stalled for almost a decade.

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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