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Jordan to host Palestinian-Israeli talks as violence spirals

Palestinians wave the national flag during a protest against an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Nablus, along the border fence with Israel, in east of Gaza City, on February 22, 2023. Palestinian officials say several Palestinians were killed and over a hundred were wounded during a rare daytime Israeli army arrest raid in the occupied West Bank.
| Photo Credit: AP

Jordan will on Sunday host a “political-security” meeting between Israel and the Palestinians to try and restore calm to the occupied Palestinian territories after deadly violence, a Jordanian government official said.

The meeting to be held in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba will also be attended by the U.S. and Egyptian representatives.

It aims at “building trust” between Israel and the Palestinians, the official told AFP on Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The talks will come after 11 Palestinians were killed and more than 80 wounded in a gun battle on Wednesday when Israeli troops raided the city of Nablus in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War.

The death toll was the highest since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, ended in 2005, the year the UN started tracking casualties.

Intensifying unrest this year has sparked international concern and follows violence in 2022 which was the deadliest in the West Bank since UN tracking began.

“The 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 Jordanian government official said.

The talks aim to reach “security and economic measures to ease the hardships of the Palestinian people,” the official added.

Jordan like Egypt is bound by a peace treaty with Israel.

Since the start of this year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 62 Palestinian adults and children, including militants and civilians.

Nine Israeli civilians, including three children, a police officer and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides.

Wednesday’s raid, the latest in a string of deadly military operations by Israel in the West Bank, came with Israel headed by a new coalition government regarded as the most right-wing in the country’s history.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who took office again in December, travelled in January to Amman for a rare meeting with King Abdullah II. The monarch stressed “the need to maintain calm and cease all acts of violence”, the royal palace said at the time.

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

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