AMMAN/GAZA: A diplomatic push is underway to prevent a repeat of last year’s Ramadan violence in the occupied Palestinian territories that led to a fourth conflict between Israel and Gaza.
King Abdullah of Jordan met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for two hours of talks in Ramallah on Monday, in his first trip to the occupied West Bank since 2017. The king had already met Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid this month to discuss strategies for containing unrest during Ramadan.
Israel’s government coordinator in the Palestinian territories, Ghassan Alyan, has also traveled to Cairo for security talks with Egyptian officials.
Palestinian officials have repeatedly warned that the occupied West Bank was on the verge of “exploding.” At this time last year, unrest at Al-Aqsa Mosque and attempts by Israeli settlers to evict Palestinians from their homes led to waves of violence, and an 11-day assault by Israel on Gaza.
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In addition to Ramadan, which begins next weekend, imminent potential flashpoints include the revival of Land Day on March 30, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day on April 17, the anniversary of the Great March of Return, the anniversary of last year’s Gaza conflict, and Nakba Day on May 15.
“We’ve seen significant tension in Jerusalem, which hasn’t died down since the last line of conflict,” said Tahani Mustafa, an analyst at the International Crisis Group. “It only makes sense for Jordan to try and intervene in some way to quell tensions.”
Security fears are already high after Daesh shot dead two Israeli policemen in Hadera on Sunday, and stabbed four Israelis to death last week in Beersheba.
Israeli political leaders have met to discuss increased security measures in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in preparation for Ramadan. However, to ease tension, Israel will increase from 10,000 to 20,000 the number of Palestinian workers from Gaza who can enter Israel, ease some import restrictions, and implement pre-pandemic plans for Palestinians in the West Bank to visit Jerusalem.
“It is clear that there is an Israeli desire, backed by American pressure, to calm the situation in the Middle East in light of the Russian-Ukrainian war,” analyst Mostafa Ibrahim told Arab News.