Middle East Conflict: Meeting of Israelis and Palestinians in Egypt – Politics
The security situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories has long been tense. But since the right-wing religious government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office, the conflict has once again escalated significantly. In a recently published report by the Associated Press 14 people on the Israeli side and 85 on the Palestinian side have fallen victim to it since the beginning of the year. And in a few days the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, which has often become a time of fighting, will begin. In order to calm the tense situation, representatives of Israel and the Palestinians made a new attempt to calm the situation during talks in Egypt this Sunday.
The Foreign Ministry in Cairo said the meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh was intended to promote dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians with the participation of the USA and Jordan. The spiral of violence should be broken and the escalation stopped. This could help create the conditions for a resumption of the peace process. The parties involved declared in a joint statement according to Israeli media reports following the meeting, expressed their “commitment to promoting security, stability and peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike”.
Both sides have committed to de-escalation and have agreed to avoid any further escalation. Israelis and Palestinians want to suspend “unilateral measures” for three to six months, said a joint statement. Israel pledged not to discuss building new settlements in the West Bank for four months and not to approve new settlement outposts for six months. An identical declaration was made at the end of February at a first summit meeting in Jordan.
But the violence has not been stopped since then. As after the negotiations in Jordan in February, there was an act of violence this Sunday in the Palestinian town of Hawara, where an armed Palestinian shot and seriously wounded an Israeli man.
Netanyahu government in a stalemate
The discussion about the Middle East Conflict is not the only trouble spot in the country. For the eleventh time in a row, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday to demonstrate against the so-called judicial reform. According to plans by the right-wing religious government, parliament should in future be able to overrule decisions by the highest court with a simple majority. In addition, politicians should be given more influence in the appointment of judges. Netanyahu’s cabinet has been at a stalemate for weeks. Last Wednesday, President Herzog presented a compromise proposal and warned of a “fratricidal war.”
The opposition backed the proposal, and Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately rejected it. In order to express their dissatisfaction with the planned judicial reform, Hundreds of elite military reserve officers announcedto refuse service: “As of today, we will no longer register as volunteers for reserve service, and we will be happy to return when democracy is secure,” a non-commissioned officer told Israeli media this Sunday. According to Israeli media reports, central points of the reform could be approved before the start of the parliamentary recess in early April.
Observers assume that the disempowerment of the independent judiciary is only a beginning. The program of the sometimes openly racist settler parties also includes more and faster land grabs in the occupied West Bank and unrestricted rights for the settlers and the Israeli security forces when taking action against the Palestinians.
The representatives of the conflicting parties who met in Egypt on Sunday should now find a way out of the spiral of violence. In the Israeli newspaper hairnet states that the group will become a permanent forum to regularly discuss the security situation between Israel and the Palestinians under the auspices of the US, Jordan and Egypt. Israel is planning to host one of the next meetings.