Israeli, Palestinian delegations sit down in Sharm el-Sheikh in bid to ease tensions

National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi arrives at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on January 15, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi arrives at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on January 15, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli and Palestinian officials meet in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh in a bid to ease tensions between the sides and rein in a spiral of violence ahead of the upcoming holiday overlap of Ramadan and Passover.

The meeting comes a few weeks after the delegations met in Aqaba, Jordan, shepherded by regional allies Egypt and Jordan as well as the US, aiming to end a spike in violence in recent months.

Whatever progress emerged out of the previous meeting in Jordan late last month, which ended with pledges to deescalate tensions, was quickly derailed when a new burst of violence erupted on the same day. A Palestinian gunman shot and killed two Israeli brothers in Huwara, whereupon Jewish settlers rampaged in the Palestinian town, setting homes and cars on fire.

Ahmed Abu Zaid, a spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry, says the meeting is being attended by “high-level political and security officials” from each side, as well as from Egypt, Jordan and the US. He says regional and international participation in the meeting aims at establishing “mechanisms” to follow and activate what the parties agree on, but provided no additional details.

Israel’s delegation is led by National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no mention of the summit in his weekly cabinet meeting. The meeting in Aqaba was derided by many members of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition in its immediate aftermath.

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