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US expects equal treatment for Palestinian and Israeli 'extremists'

The occupied West Bank has seen a spike in Israeli violence against Palestinians this year and a resurgence of Palestinian armed resistance
Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli soldiers following a protest against the establishment of Israeli outposts, in Beit Dajan, east of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, on 16 December 2022 (AFP)

The US expects to see “equal treatment” of Palestinian and Israeli “extremists” in the occupied West Bank, a top US official said at the United Nations on Monday, amid escalating violence in the region.

“It is imperative that the parties take urgent action to reduce the troubling levels of extremist violence fueling instability in the West Bank,” Ambassador Robert Wood, alternative representative for special political affairs in the UN, said.

This year has seen a spike in Israeli violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and a resurgence of Palestinian armed resistance.  

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On Sunday, a 15-year-old Palestinian girl, Jana Majdi Zakarneh, was killed by Israeli forces. According to reports, Zakarneh was shot dead while on the roof of her home. The Israeli army said soldiers killed the girl "unintentionally". Two brothers, Mohammad and Muhannad Yousef Muteir, were also killed on Saturday night after an Israeli settler rammed a car into them in the occupied West Bank.

In total, Israeli forces and settlers have killed 166 Palestinians, including at least 30 children, in the West Bank in 2022, making it one of the deadliest years on record for Palestinians since 2005.

The Israeli military has conducted regular raids against the Jenin Brigade, an armed group made up mainly of Islamic Jihad members.

In Nablus, the Lions' Den has emerged as an armed group outside the structure of traditional Palestinian political affiliations as Palestinian armed resistance has gained momentum in the wake of the violence.

Meanwhile, 29 Israelis, including soldiers, have been killed by Palestinians in the same period, the highest number since 2008.

'Deeply disappointed'

Wood didn’t expand on the "extremists’" he was referring to, or distinguish between Israelis and Palestinians.

“The United States expects to see equal treatment of extremists – whether Israeli or Palestinian – in arrests, convictions, and punishments, as well as equal allocation of resources to prevent and investigate violent attacks,” he said.

The diplomat also said that the US was “deeply disappointed” by Palestinian-led efforts in the General Assembly to request an International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion against Israel.

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The draft resolution would have the Assembly request the (ICJ) render an advisory on the legal consequences stemming from Israel’s occupation and settlement of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

“This action is counterproductive and will only take the parties further away from the objective we all share of a negotiated two-state solution,” he added.

Hopes for a two-state solution have faded, and concerns are mounting that Israel’s upcoming government, currently being formed by prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu and comprised of far-right and religious Zionist parties, could push for annexation.

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