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Gathering in Egypt for Peaceful Pre-Ramadan Effort: Israelis and Palestinians Unite

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Israeli and Palestinian officials met Sunday in Egypt for talks aimed at calming escalating violence that has raised fears of a further escalation once the holy month of Ramadan begins later this week.

With the support of the United States and Jordan as well, the meeting comes after the February 26 conference with American mediation in Aqaba, the first of its kind in years, which included Israeli and Palestinian pledges to stop the escalation, but the factions on both sides object to them. Failed to stop the violence on the ground.

A statement by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry stated that the meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh resort “aims to support dialogue between the Palestinian and Israeli sides to work to stop unilateral measures and escalation, break the existing cycle of violence and achieve calm.” .

She added that this would “facilitate the creation of a suitable atmosphere for the resumption of the peace process.”

In previous years, clashes broke out between Israeli police and Palestinians around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during Ramadan, which this year coincides with the Jewish Passover and the Christian Passover.

The Israeli-occupied West Bank has seen a surge in confrontations in recent months, with near-daily military raids and escalating settler violence amid a series of attacks by Palestinians.

Over the past year, Israeli forces have carried out thousands of arrests in the West Bank and killed more than 200 Palestinians, including members of armed groups and civilians.

More than 40 Israelis and three Ukrainians were killed in alleged Palestinian attacks in the same period.

In Aqaba, Israel pledged to stop discussions on establishing new settlement units in the West Bank for four months and to stop authorizing settlement outposts for six months.

But the Israeli prime minister quickly appeared to play down any commitment, saying there would be no freeze in an apparent nod to hardline members of his coalition government.

Last month, the Netanyahu government allowed nine outposts of Jewish settlers in the West Bank and announced mass construction of new homes in existing settlements. This step aroused strong dissatisfaction with the United States.

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

But peace talks have stalled since 2014, and Palestinians say Jewish settlement expansion has undermined chances for a viable state.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, during his visit to Israel earlier this month, told Israeli leaders to take steps to reduce tensions in the West Bank, saying Washington firmly opposes any actions that could lead to more insecurity, including settlement expansion and rhetoric inflammatory.

He said Washington was particularly troubled by settler violence against Palestinians.

The Palestinian Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, denounced the participation of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank in the meeting, noting the presence of the Israeli government, “which is escalating its aggression against our people.”

However, Hussein al-Sheikh of the Palestine Liberation Organization said that a Palestinian delegation would be in Sharm al-Sheikh “to defend the right of our Palestinian people to freedom and independence and to demand an end to the continuous Israeli aggression against us.”

Netanyahu’s office declined to comment on the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting.

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