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World News | Jordan summit seeks de-escalation as 2 Israelis die


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JERUSALEM, Feb. 26 (AP) — A Palestinian gunman opened fire on a car in the northern West Bank on Sunday, killing two Israeli brothers in the attack, as Israeli and Palestinian officials pledged to quell a year-long civil war. Waves of violence.

The Jordanian government, which held talks in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba on Sunday, said the two sides had agreed to take steps to ease tensions and would meet again ahead of next month’s Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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“They reaffirmed the need for a commitment to de-escalate the situation on the ground and prevent further violence,” the Jordanian foreign ministry announced.

Jordan’s announcement marks a small sign of progress after nearly a year of fighting in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that killed more than 200 Palestinians and more than 40 Israelis. But it’s unclear whether those pledges will curb violence on the ground.

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Palestinians claim the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – areas Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war – as future states. Some 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The international community overwhelmingly considers the settlements to be illegal and an obstacle to peace.

The Israeli military was scrambling to find the gunman late Sunday after strengthening its presence in the northern West Bank. Key members of Israel’s far-right government have called for tougher action.

Israel’s finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, the leader of the settler movement responsible for much of Israel’s West Bank policy, called for “a merciless attack on the city of terror and its instigators with tanks and helicopters, in a way that conveys that the occupants of the house are mad. “

An Israeli ministerial committee has given preliminary approval to a bill that would impose the death penalty on Palestinians convicted of deadly attacks. The measure has been sent to lawmakers for further debate.

There are also different interpretations of what exactly the Palestinians and Israelis agreed to in Aqaba.

The Jordanian foreign ministry said the delegates agreed to work towards a “just and lasting peace” and pledged to maintain the status quo at the disputed holy site in Jerusalem.

Tensions at the site, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and holy by Muslims, have often turned violent, sparking an 11-day war between Israel and the Hamas militant group during Ramadan two years ago.

Israeli officials played down Sunday’s meeting.

A senior official, speaking on the condition of anonymity in line with government guidelines, said only that Jordan had agreed to form a committee to work on restoring secure relations with the Palestinians. The Palestinians severed ties with Palestine last month after Israel launched a deadly military attack on the West Bank.

Chachi Haneby, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, who led the Israeli delegation, said there was “no change” in Israeli policy and that plans to build thousands of new settlement houses approved last week were not. will be affected.

“Over the next few months, the State of Israel will legalize nine settlement outposts and approve the construction of 9,500 new housing units in Judea and Samaria,” he said, using the occupied Jordan River Biblical name for the West Bank. He said there was “no settlement freeze” and “no restrictions on army activity”.

The Jordanian statement said Israel had pledged not to legalize any outposts within six months, or to approve any new construction in existing settlements within four months.

Meanwhile, Palestinians say they have raised a long list of grievances, including an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied land and a halt to Israeli military raids on Palestinian towns.

Sunday’s shooting in Hawala came days after Israeli forces attacked the nearby city of Nablus, killing 10 Palestinians. The shooting happened on a major road serving Palestinians and Israeli settlers. The two men killed were identified as brothers, aged 21 and 19, from the Jewish settlement of Har Bracha.

Hanegbi joined talks in neighboring Jordan with the head of Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency. The head of Palestinian intelligence and an adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas also attended the meeting.

King Abdullah II of Jordan, who is close to the Palestinians, chaired the discussions, which were also joined by another mediator, Egypt and the United States.

It was a rare high-level meeting between the two sides, illustrating the magnitude of the crisis and fears of increased violence as Ramadan approaches in late March.

In Gaza, Islamist militant group Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, criticized Sunday’s meeting, saying the shooting was a “natural response” to Israel’s invasion of the West Bank.

“The resistance in the West Bank will continue and grow, and no plan or summit will stop it,” spokesman Hazem Qassem said.

Israel withdrew its troops from Gaza in 2005, and the Hamas militant group subsequently took control of the area, which Israel and Egypt continue to impose a blockade on.

Israel has pledged to continue fighting militants in the West Bank that are barely under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Israel is also led by a far-right government whose members oppose concessions to the Palestinians and favor settlements on occupied land the Palestinians seek for a future state.

Violence between Israelis and Palestinians has surged since Israel stepped up its attacks on the West Bank last spring following a spate of attacks in Palestine. Bloodshed has spiked this year, with more than 60 Palestinians killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to an Associated Press tally. Palestinian attacks on Israelis have killed 13 people in 2023, compared with about 30 people killed in Palestinian attacks last year.

Israel said the attack was aimed at disabling the militant network and preventing future attacks. Palestinians say Israel is further consolidating its 55-year unrestricted occupation of land, wanting to create a future state and weakening their own security forces.

This year’s Ramadan coincides with the week-long Jewish holiday of Passover, and believers of both faiths are expected to flock to holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City that have often been a flashpoint for violent clashes between the two sides. Clashes erupted last year at a key holy site in Jerusalem, where tensions led to an 11-day war with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip in 2021. (Associated Press)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)


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