The West Bank offensive casts a shadow over the Israeli-Palestinian talks
Whatever progress was made from the previous meeting in Jordan late last month, which ended with pledges to calm tensions, was quickly derailed when a new wave of violence erupted the same day. A Palestinian gunman shot and killed two Israelis in the occupied West Bank and Jewish settlers retaliated in a Palestinian town, destroying property and killing a Palestinian.
The Israeli military said a Palestinian gunman opened fire on an Israeli car in the same town – Hawara – as talks were taking place on Sunday, in the violence last month.
Israeli medics said a man was shot in the upper body and seriously wounded, while his wife sustained minor injuries.
The IDF said the suspect was killed – either by the wounded man or by the soldiers – and arrested. His condition was not immediately known.
Hawara lies on a busy road in the northern part of the West Bank that is used by Israeli residents of nearby Jewish settlements. Many of the settlers carry rifles.
The bloodshed has escalated since last month’s meeting in Jordan, keeping expectations for a second installment on Sunday low.
The killing of an Islamic Jihad activist in neighboring Syria added to tensions on Sunday. The group, which operates in the northern West Bank, accused Israel of assassinating the leader. Israel has no comment.
However, the mediators want to ease tensions ahead of Ramadan, which begins this week and which next month coincides with the week-long Jewish holiday of Passover.
Ahmed Abu Zeid, a spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, said Sunday’s meeting would be attended by “high-ranking political and security officials” from each side, as well as from Egypt, Jordan and the United States. He wrote on Twitter that the talks are part of efforts to achieve and support calm between Israel and the Palestinians.
Abu Zeid said that the regional and international participation in the meeting aims to set up “mechanisms” to follow up and activate what the two parties agree upon, but he did not mention additional details.
He added that the talks come within the framework of efforts to support “dialogue between the Palestinian and Israeli sides to work to stop unilateral measures and escalation, break the cycle of violence and achieve calm.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no mention of the summit in his weekly cabinet meeting.
Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh tweeted that the meeting was aimed at “demanding an end to the ongoing Israeli aggression against us.”
Israeli media said senior security officials were due to attend.
The coming period is sensitive because large numbers of Jewish and Muslim believers flock to the Old City of Jerusalem, the emotional heart of the conflict and a flashpoint of violence, adding to the points of friction. A large number of Jews are also expected to visit a major holy site in Jerusalem, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as the Temple Mount, which Palestinians see as a provocation. Clashes at the site in 2021 helped trigger an 11-day war between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip.
Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East War from Jordan and Egypt. The Palestinians seek those lands for their future independent state.