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Israelis and Palestinians meet in Egypt to ease tensions

Meeting backed by US and Jordan aims to curb growing violence in the occupied West Bank following a series of attacks by Israeli forces
This picture taken 19 November 2022 shows a view of the old market area of Egypt's Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh and the Grand Mosque of al-Sahaba at sunset (AFP)

Israeli and Palestinian officials met on Sunday in a bid to ease tensions between the two sides following a series of attacks by Israeli forces across the occupied West Bank.

The one-day meeting in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh is being backed by Egyptian, US and Jordanian officials.

It is the second meeting in so many weeks where both sides have tried to build a framework for easing escalating tensions in the West Bank. 

Held in late February, the last meeting was held in the Red Sea resort town of Aqaba, in Jordan. 

Any progress that might have occurred following the meeting in Jordan was derailed almost immediately after Israeli settlers went on a rampage attacking the Palestinian village of Huwwara on 26 February.

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At least one Palestinian was killed and nearly 400 wounded in the attacks on Huwwara and other West Bank towns and villages, Palestinian health officials said.

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Settlers burnt down at least 35 homes and 40 others were partially damaged, and many of the buildings were set on fire while their Palestinian inhabitants sheltered inside. More than 100 cars were burnt or otherwise destroyed.

The talks in Egypt come ahead of Ramadan, set to begin on Thursday which coincides next month with the Jewish holiday of Passover.

A spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry said that Sunday's meeting would be attended by "high-level political and security officials" from the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh tweeted that the meeting was meant "to defend the rights of our Palestinian people to freedom and independence, and to demand an end to this continuous Israeli aggression against us".

Tensions have been high in recent months, as Israeli attacks in the West Bank intensify and Palestinian resistance grows.

On Friday a 23-year-old Palestinian was fatally shot by Israeli forces, bringing the number of Palestinians killed this year to at least 86, including 16 children.

It's the bloodiest start to a year since 2000, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Hours following a meeting between Israeli officials and the Palestinian Authority, which ended in a joint statement outlining an Israeli commitment to suspend discussions on new settlements in the occupied West Bank, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the building of Israeli settlements would move ahead.

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