AMMAN: Jordan hosted a meeting between top Israeli and Palestinian officials on Sunday aiming to halt surging violence, an official said, as Washington and its Arab allies seek to defuse tensions which are fuelling concern of a wider escalation.
The discussions are part of stepped-up Jordanian diplomacy with Washington and Egypt to put the brakes on one of the worst surges in violence in years, with concern building of further escalation as the holy Muslim month of Ramadan approaches.
The meeting at the Red Sea port of Aqaba brought together top Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs for the first time in many years, officials said, aiming to restore calm in Israel, the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The talks will come after 11 Palestinians were killed and more than 80 wounded in a gun battle on Wednesday when Israeli troops raided the city of Nablus in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War.
The death toll was the highest since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, ended in 2005, the year the UN started tracking casualties.
Intensifying unrest this year has sparked international concern and follows violence in 2022 which was the deadliest in the West Bank since UN tracking began.
The talks aim to reach security and economic measures to ease the hardships of the Palestinian people.
“The political-security meeting is part of stepped up ongoing efforts by Jordan in coordination with the Palestinian Authority and other parties to end unilateral measures (by Israel) and a security breakdown that could fuel more violence,” the Jordanian government official said.
The talks aim to reach “security and economic measures to ease the hardships of the Palestinian people,” the official added.
Jordan like Egypt is bound by a peace treaty with Israel.
Since the start of this year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 62 Palestinian adults and children.
Wednesday’s raid, the latest in a string of deadly military operations by Israel in the West Bank, came with Israel headed by a new coalition government regarded as the most right-wing in the country’s history.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who took office again in December, traveled in January to Amman for a rare meeting with King Abdullah II.
The king stressed “the need to maintain calm and cease all acts of violence,” the royal palace said at the time.
King Abdullah also reaffirmed Jordan’s position in support of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians to end the decades-old conflict.