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Israel and Palestinians agree to de-escalate tensions and ‘prevent more violence’ ahead of holy month

Many are preparing for a fight and are not in the mood for peace

The statement that emerged from the talks in Jordan is, on the face of it, positive.

Both sides have agreed to keep a direct dialogue, something that has been lacking as tensions have worsened in recent months.

Also agreed was a six-month freeze on settlement expansion in the West Bank and greater efforts by the Palestinian Authority to reduce violence by its citizens.

Another summit is scheduled to take place in Egypt in the coming weeks.

Although the figures who met in Aqaba are senior officials – the head of Shin Bet, Israel’s national security advisor and the head of the Palestinian intelligence service – there are significant voices on both sides who did not agree with the meeting and will not willingly support the efforts.

Already, the controversial Israeli far-right Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has tweeted saying “what was in Jordan (if it was) will stay in Jordan”.

And Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has just taken on increased powers for overseeing the West Bank, released a statement saying “there will not be a freeze on construction and development in the settlement, not even for one day (this is on my authority).”

Hamas also dismissed the summit as worthless.

Add to this demonstrations across the West Bank last night in protest against Palestinian officials meeting with their Israeli counterparts and there would appear to be many who are preparing for a fight and are not in the mood for peace.

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is now just weeks away and again it coincides with the Jewish Passover festival.

If urgent steps aren’t taken to reduce the violence, by both sides, then it could get dramatically worse, very quickly.

An Israeli security official described the coming months as “the perfect storm” to me recently – without a major reversal of the violence, his prediction is looking ominously accurate.

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