On February 26, representatives from the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government met in Jordan for previously agreed-upon peace talks, reports Reuters. The talks, while initially perceived as successful, were abruptly halted due to increased violence in the West Bank. Reuters furthers that on February 22, days before the intended peace talks, the violence escalated. In the Palestinian city of Nablus, 11 Palestinians were killed.
Middle East Eye reports that the meeting took place at the Red Sea Port of Aqaba. There are also other reports that both an Egyptian and U.S. representative attended the peace talks in Jordan. Al Jazeera writes, quoting a Jordanian official, that Sunday’s “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 other main goal that was made clear in the meeting was “security and economic measures to ease” Palestinian hardships.
After the meeting on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted out the conclusion of the meeting, which The Guardian writes “He tweeted that “the building and authorization in Judea and Samaria will continue according to the original planning and building schedule, with no change”, using the biblical term for the West Bank. “There is not and will not be any freeze.” This was in reference to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, deemed illegal by the international community, and a concession the Palestinians had requested for many years. Senior Israeli minister Itamar Ben Gvir commented, “What happened in Jordan (if it happened), will remain in Jordan,” seemingly disregarding the talks altogether.
Hours after the summit, a Palestinian gunman shot two Israeli settlers, and crowds of settlers have burned and vandalized buildings and cars in different Palestinian Villages all along the West Bank. Israeli soldiers reportedly did not stop the settler’s actions, according to Al Jazeera. Haaretz discusses the agreements and nuances that were made by all parties that were present at the summit writing, “The Government of Israel and the Palestinian National Authority confirmed their joint readiness and commitment to immediately work to end unilateral measures… [including] an Israeli commitment to stop discussion of any new settlement units for 4 months and to stop authorization of any outposts for 6 months.” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, however, announced there would be no freeze on settlements after the talks.
With the constant escalation of violence, the Atlantic reports that a third Intifada, or uprising, is on the horizon. The Second Intifada, between 2000 and 2005, saw some of the highest death tolls in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. There were reportedly 171 Palestinians killed, including about 30 children, during this time period. The constant escalation of violence leads many to believe that the cycle will continue, causing many Palestinians to believe armed resistance is the only solution. Israeli authorities have also turned to using harsher tactics to crack down on Palestinian dissenters, some of whom belong to various militant factions. The Israeli authorities, however, have been accused of using collective punishments to punish all Palestinians for the actions of a few and many figures in the government justifying violence against Palestinians, reports Axios.
The talks in Jordan highlight the volatility of the situation, where agreements can be made one day and disregarded the next. It remains clear that a solution that does not give statehood to Palestinians will be untenable. Despite recent escalations, activists are hopeful that peace talks will continue with the hope that the violence eventually de-escalates.