PALESTINE Israelis and Palestinians ‘dialogue’, but there are still deaths and violence in the Territories

Yesterday there was a meeting between the high officials in Jordan, with a joint commitment towards the de-escalation and the preservation of the holy places. Timid signs of dialogue were immediately drowned out by an assault by settlers in Huwara and by new victims on both sides. Economy Minister Smotrich denied a “freeze” in the colonies. Netanyahu legalized the death penalty for terrorism.

Jerusalem () – Despite the fragile (and vain) attempts at dialogue and mediation between the parties, such as the one that took place yesterday in Jordan between senior Israeli and Palestinian officials, the spiral of violence continues in the West Bank and threatens to end in a new intifada. The scene of the latest attack, which began late yesterday afternoon, was Huwara, where dozens of Jewish settlers set houses on fire and damaged cars and rubbish bins. The mass assault occurred after the death of two young settlers in the previous hours, who were shot yesterday when they were traveling by car near the Palestinian town.

The Israeli government immediately called the incident a “Palestinian terrorist attack.” At night, the balance worsened with a new victim, this time from the Palestinian side, who was also shot dead when Israeli forces and settlers stormed Zaatara, another town near Nablus. In addition to the three victims, the attack in Huwara left a final balance of at least 100 cars burned and 30 houses burned or damaged; Stores and commercial activities were also affected. Meanwhile, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, asked the settlers in the area “not to do justice” by his hand, but to “let the Security Forces” fulfill “their mission”.

The prime minister has led the “most right-wing” government in Israel’s history since the end of December, and some of his ministers are settlers or staunch supporters of the settlements in the West Bank. In a note released by some administrative leaders of the colonies, they invited to leave the field free for the army to “win”, avoiding “taking justice into their own hands”, and instead supporting a vast “dissuasive military operation”.

The reply from the Palestinian front was immediate: President Mahmud Abbas accused Israel of “protecting the terrorist acts perpetrated by the settlers” and of multiplying army operations in the Territories. Often with bloody results, as happened last week in Nablus, where 11 victims were registered, the highest number of a military incursion in the West Bank since 2005. Meanwhile, the death toll continues to grow: since the beginning of the year, the conflict it has cost the lives of 63 Palestinians, including members of armed groups and civilians; and on the Israeli side there are 11 civilians and a policeman dead, in addition to a woman of Ukrainian origin.

Also yesterday, meanwhile, high-ranking Israeli and Palestinian officials met in Jordan, in the city of Aqaba, and renewed the joint commitment – hitherto unfulfilled – to defuse the escalation and avoid “more violence”. At the end of the summit, the parties signed a joint commitment to “reduce the escalation in the territory and avoid further violence”, although the National Security Adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, was quick to clarify at night that the government’s policy would not change. . In fact, at the same time, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism), the new head of the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank, stated that “the construction and development of the settlements will not be frozen for even one day”.

In fact, he dismissed the already faint hopes of a relaxation of tension as a first result of the talks sponsored by the Hashemite kingdom, which were also attended by representatives of Egypt, Jordan and the United States. Among the proposals was to “preserve the holy places in Jerusalem”, where attacks against Christians also took place, and to “act immediately to block unilateral measures for a period of three to six months”. Words thrown out immediately by the violence in a region that continues to burn while awaiting the next meeting in March in Sharm El-Sheikh (Egypt). Meanwhile, the Netanyahu government has given the green light to a bill to legalize the death penalty against those accused of terrorism. The Prime Minister and Minister of Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, made the announcement. “We will act to deter terrorists and maintain security,” Netanyahu said. “We will hit terrorism hard.”

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