Talks in Egypt highlighted the need to prevent disruptive action at Jerusalem’s holy sites during Ramadan.
Israeli and Palestinian officials agreed at a meeting in Egypt to take steps to ease tensions ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Talks in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday highlighted the need to prevent disruptive action in Jerusalem’s holy sites when Ramadan begins later this week.
In a joint statement following the talks attended by US, Egyptian and Jordanian officials, the parties also reaffirmed commitments made at a meeting in Aqaba last month, including an Israeli pledge to resume settlement talks for four months. to stop.
The Israeli promise was largely symbolic. Israel recently approved construction of thousands of new settlements, and there were no immediate plans to approve further construction.
Yet the mere talk of slowing settlements could cause a backlash in Israel’s right-wing coalition government, which is dominated by settler leaders and supporters.
A similar meeting in Jordan on February 26 ended with pledges to de-escalate tensions. It was quickly derailed by several new outbreaks of violence.
A Palestinian gunman shot and killed two Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank and Jewish settlers rampaged in the Palestinian town of Huwara, killing a Palestinian man and destroying property in what has been described as a pogrom.
An Israeli raid on Nablus also killed 11 Palestinians, so expectations for the second installment were low.
While Sunday’s talks were underway, a Palestinian gunman opened fire on a vehicle in Huwara, seriously wounding an Israeli man, medics said. The man’s wife was treated for shock.
The Israeli army said the wounded man and Israeli troops opened fire, hitting the attacker. The man was later arrested, the army said. His condition was not immediately known.
Huwara is on a busy road in the northern part of the West Bank used by Israeli settlers, many of whom are armed.
Over the past year, Israeli forces have made thousands of arrests in the West Bank and killed more than 200 Palestinians, while more than 40 Israelis and three Ukrainians have been killed in Palestinian attacks.
The Israeli-occupied West Bank has seen a spate of confrontations in recent months, with near-daily Israeli military raids and escalating violence by Israeli settlers.
Mechanism to curb violence
“The two sides agreed to establish a mechanism to curb and counter violence, seditious and incendiary conditions and actions,” the joint statement said. The parties would report on progress next month at a follow-up meeting in Egypt, it added.
It gave no further details about the mechanism.
Parties to the talks also stressed the need for both Israelis and Palestinians to actively prevent actions that would disrupt the sanctity of Jerusalem’s holy sites during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the statement said.
Large numbers of Jews are also expected to visit an important holy site in Jerusalem, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount — an act the Palestinians consider a provocation.
Under long-standing regulations, Jews are allowed to visit the site, but are not allowed to pray there. But in recent years, the number of visitors has grown, with some praying silently. Such scenes have raised fears among Palestinians that Israel is trying to change the status quo.
Fighting at the site in 2021 helped spark an 11-day Israeli war on Gaza.