The Israeli government and Palestinian Authority Sunday affirmed a “commitment” to work towards “a just and lasting peace” following successful talks in Jordan. The joint statement expresses the parties’ confirmation of a “readiness” to work towards peace measures as well as advance “confidence-building measures and strengthen mutual trust…through direct dialogue.”The Aqaba Joint Communiqué is the first of its kind in years. In a statement, US National Security Advisor Jack Sullivan welcomed the meeting as a “starting point…to build a stable and prosperous future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.” Talks have previously stalled for almost a decade.The meeting came amid growing concerns over the increase in deadly violence in the region. Days ago, Israeli forces carried out a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, killing 11 Palestinians. In response, Israel’s government said it would expedite legislation reinstating the death penalty for acts of terrorism committed against Israeli nationals. At least 62 Palestinians and 12 Israelis have been killed so far this year. This escalating violence follows the bloodiest year on record in the region since the Palestinian uprising in the 2000s.The meeting has received mixed support. Israel agreed to stop discussion of any settlement units for four months and to stop authorisation of any outposts for six months. However, Israeli’s far-right finance minister Benzalel Smotrich rejected the plans and condemned the Aqaba meeting. Hamas condemned the participation of the Palestinian Authority, describing the meeting as “fruitless” and “at the expense of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights.”The parties are expected to meet again in Sharm El Sheikh in March.
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