US leads Israel-Palestinian Aqaba parley to de-escalate tension for spring festivals
The US leads the emergency Israel-Palestinian meeting taking place in Aqaba on Monday for a bid to defuse rising tensions ahead of the concurrent Muslim Ramadan and Jewish Passover next month. The US plan is said to issue a call for Israel to cut down on military entry to Palestinian-ruled areas in Judea and Samaria and allow the Palestinian Authority’s security personnel a free hand. The Palestinians are said to be demanding a six-month interregnum on “”unilateral Israeli steps” in that territory, including the destruction of homes [of convicted terrorists], and the building of new homes in Jewish areas. Jordan, which hosts the talks, calls for “security and economic measures to ease the hardships of the Palestinian people.”
Tensions peaked last week after 11 Palestinians were killed in a gun battle in Nablus over an IDF arrest operation.
US National Security Council Middle East Coordinator Brett McGurk and Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf are slated to represent the Biden administration. National security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Shin Bet chif Ronen Bar are expected to represent Israel; the Palestinian side, reportedly by PA Civil Affairs Minister and PLO Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh along with PA intelligence chief Majed Faraj and Mahmoud Abbas’ diplomatic adviser Majdi Khaldi.