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Jordan to host Israel-Palestine talks amid anger over Nablus massacre

Jordan is to host a “political-security” meeting between Israel and Palestine to try to restore calm in the occupied territories after deadly violence, a government official said.

Sunday’s meeting to be held in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba will also be attended by United States and Egyptian representatives.

It aims at “building trust” between Israel and Palestine, the official told the AFP news agency on Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The head of Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency, Ronen Bar, will be part of the Israeli delegation, a security source told AFP.

“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 agree “security and economic measures to ease the hardships of the Palestinian people,” the official added.

As the talks come after 11 Palestinians were killed on Wednesday by Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Nablus, Palestine’s leadership’s decision to attend the Jordan meeting drew criticism from other factions.

The ruling Fatah movement of President Mahmud Abbas defended the move on Twitter.

“The decision to take part in the Aqaba meeting despite the pain and massacres being endured by the Palestinian people comes from a desire to bring an end to the bloodshed,” the movement said.

The death toll in Wednesday’s massacre was the highest since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, ended in 2005, the year the United Nations started tracking casualties.

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 Palestinians.

Nine Israeli civilians, a police officer and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides.

READ MORE: ‘They shot to kill’: Israeli troops kill 11 Palestinians in Nablus raid

Illegal Jewish settlements

Since December, Israel has been ruled by a coalition government regarded as the most far-right in Israel’s history. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a veteran hawk, handed key West Bank powers to far-right ministers.

The new premier travelled to Amman in January 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.

Abdullah also reaffirmed Jordan’s position in support of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestine to end the decades-old conflict.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since capturing it from Jordan in the Six-Day War of 1967. 

Over 700,000 Israelis now live in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.

The international community, along with Palestine, considers settlement construction illegal or illegitimate and an obstacle to peace.

Israel okays 7,000 illegal homes, accused of ‘spitting on the face of US’

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