(MENAFN) Egypt played host to Israeli and Palestinian officials in the city of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday, as part of a US and Jordanian backed effort to ease tensions in the West Bank before the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. The five-way meeting follows a US-brokered summit in Jordan in February that secured commitments from both sides to de-escalate, but which failed to halt violence on the ground. The Sharm el-Sheikh meeting aims to support dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, with the goal of ending unilateral actions and breaking the existing cycle of violence, according to a statement from Egypt’s foreign ministry. The hope is that this will facilitate the creation of a climate that is conducive to resuming the peace process.
Palestinians are seeking to establish an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital – territories that Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. However, peace talks have been stalled since 2014 and Palestinian officials argue that the expansion of Jewish settlements has reduced the chances of creating a viable Palestinian state. The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan begins in late March, and in previous years, clashes have erupted between Israeli police and Palestinians around Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque at the height of the holy month, which coincides this year with Judaism’s Passover and Christian Easter.
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