Egypt hosts Israeli-Palestinian talks in push for pre-Ramazan calm

Published March 19, 2023
Palestinians take part in a protest against a new Israeli settlement as Israeli forces stand guard near their vehicle near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, March 10, 2023. — Reuters
Palestinians take part in a protest against a new Israeli settlement as Israeli forces stand guard near their vehicle near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, March 10, 2023. — Reuters

Egypt hosts Israeli and Palestinian officials on Sunday in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh in a US and Jordanian-backed effort to calm a surge of violence in the West Bank ahead of the holy month of Ramazan.

The five-way meeting follows a Feb 26 US-brokered summit in Jordan, the first of its kind in years, that secured Israeli and Palestinian pledges to de-escalate but was challenged by factions on both sides and failed to halt violence on the ground.

The meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh “aims to support dialogue between the Palestinian and Israeli sides to work to stop unilateral actions and escalation, and break the existing cycle of violence and achieve calm”, a statement from Egypt’s foreign ministry said.

This could “facilitate the creation of a climate suitable for the resumption of the peace process”, it added.

The Palestinians aim to establish an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital — territories Israel captured in a 1967 war.

But peace talks have been stalled since 2014 and Palestinians say Jewish settlement expansion has undermined the chances of a viable state being established.

In previous years, clashes have erupted between Israeli police and Palestinians around Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque at the height of Ramazan, which coincides this year with Judaism’s Passover and Christian Easter.

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