Jordan hosts first Israeli-Palestinian talks in years
Amman, Feb 26 (EFE).- Jordan was hosting talks on Sunday between Israeli and Palestinian officials and representatives from the United States and Egypt in a bid to halt a further escalation of violence in the occupied West Bank, state media reported.
The meeting, the first of its kind in years, is set to take place in the Red Sea port city of Aqaba in the Hashemite Kingdom, which signed a peace treaty with Israel back in 1994.
Jordanian officials told state broadcasters that the talks would be held in efforts to calm the situation and to pave the way for a broader political negotation between the two sides.
The aim is to “stop the deterioration of the situation… and stop all unilateral measures and further escalation that threaten to unleash cycles of violence, as well as reach security and economic agreement to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians,” the officials said.
The meeting comes as violence between Israelis and Palestinians has been rapidly escalating in the occupied West Bank.
On Wednesday, 11 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 others were wounded during an arrest raid conducted by Israeli soldiers in the flashpoint city of Nablus, marking one of the deadliest days for Palestinians in the West Bank in years.
This incident comes amid an escalation of violence in the region that has left 62 dead so far this year: 59 Palestinians – an average of more than one a day – and 11 people on the Israeli side.
Many of the deaths in recent weeks were during clashes triggered by Israeli military operations in the West Bank, as well as deadly attacks launched by Palestinians against Israelis.
The US on Thursday called on Israelis and Palestinians to reduce tensions, and offered to become a mediator in talks to stop escalation between both sides.
“We believe it’s incumbent on both parties, Israelis and Palestinians, to take steps that in the first instance don’t further escalate tensions,” US department of state spokesperson Ned Price said.
Arab League nations, including Jordan and Egypt, have repeatedly blamed the latest escalations in violence on Israel’s “unilateral measures” in the West Bank, particularly in East Jerusalem.
The Israeli incursion into Nablus was the latest in a series of tensions that followed the swearing-in of the far-right government of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in late December. EFE