Settler leader Yossi Dagan on Tuesday hosted a group of local Palestinian leaders at the Samaria Regional Council for Iftar, the traditional meal to break the Ramadan fast.
Among the 20 participants were Islamic sheikhs and clan leaders, who attend such interfaith coexistence gatherings despite the risk of retaliation they face from their fellow Palestinians, Channel 13 news reported.
The meeting came against the backdrop of Israel’s deadliest wave of terror since the end of the Second Intifada in 2006. Between March 22 and March 30, 11 Israelis were killed in three separate attacks, leading the IDF to embark on a widescale arrest operation dubbed “Breakwater.”
Halduun Husseini, spokesperson for the Palestinian participants, condemned the recent attacks on Israelis. “We need to stop these terrorist attacks, because these attacks only lead to trouble,” he told Channel 13.
There was also criticism of corruption and weakness in the Palestinian Authority.
“Our young people are getting killed and our people are hungry,” said Ramzi Musallam, now known as the Archbishop Melchisedeck of the Palestinian Orthodox Church of America.
“The money that comes into the Palestinian Authority, I don’t know where that money goes,” said the archbishop, speaking directly to reporters.
This is not the first time Dagan, chairman of the Samaria Regional Council, has presided over an Iftar meal. In May 2021, Israel National News reported on an Iftar meal between the settler leader and 20 Palestinian clerics and businesspeople, who were joined by businessmen from the United Arab Emirates on Zoom. Similarly, that gathering was held following a terrorist shooting at Tapuach Junction in the West Bank.
While the month of Ramadan can spark tensions between Jews and Palestinians in the region, it can also be an opportunity for the two communities to mix. In May 2019, The Times of Israel reported on an Iftar meal held at the SodaStream factory in Rahat, which more than 2,000 of its Jewish and Arab employees attended.