Egypt hosts Israeli-Palestinian talks in push for pre-Ramadan calm
CAIRO, March 19 — Egypt hosts Israeli and Palestinian officials today in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh in a US and Jordanian backed effort to calm a surge of violence in the West Bank ahead of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
The five-way meeting follows a February 26 US-brokered summit in Jordan, the first of its kind in years, that secured Israeli and Palestinian pledges to de-escalate but was challenged by factions on both sides and failed to halt violence on the ground.
The meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh “aims to support dialogue between the Palestinian and Israeli sides to work to stop unilateral actions and escalation, and break the existing cycle of violence and achieve calm”, a statement from Egypt’s foreign ministry said.
This could “facilitate the creation of a climate suitable for the resumption of the peace process”, it added.
The Palestinians aim to establish an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital — territories Israel captured in a 1967 war.But peace talks have been stalled since 2014 and Palestinians say Jewish settlement expansion has undermined the chances of a viable state being established.
The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan starts in late March.
In previous years, clashes have erupted between Israeli police and Palestinians around Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque at the height of Ramadan, which coincides this year with Judaism’s Passover and Christian Easter. — Reuters