Israeli, Palestinian Authority officials meet for talks in Egypt

Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) officials are meeting in Egypt for talks amid criticism and calls for a boycott by Palestinian political parties.

The one-day meeting, which is also being attended by Egyptian, US and Jordanian officials, began on Sunday in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.The talks come ahead of Ramadan, set to begin on Thursday, in a diplomatic effort to maintain “calm” during the Muslim holy month, when matters often escalate between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The situation on the ground has been tense for more than a year, with frequent raids and near-daily killings of Palestinians by the Israeli army, which have only spiked under the new extreme right-wing Israeli government sworn in at the end of last year.

A statement by Egypt’s foreign ministry said the talks aim “to support dialogue between the Palestinian and Israeli sides to work to stop unilateral actions and escalation, and to break the existing cycle of violence and achieve calm”.

This could “facilitate the creation of a climate suitable for the resumption of the peace process”, the statement added.

On Saturday, top PA official Hussein al-Sheikh said the Palestinian delegation will be participating in order to “defend the rights of our Palestinian people to freedom and independence”, and “[request] an end to this continuous Israeli aggression against us and to stop all measures and policies that violate our blood, land, property and sanctities”.

According to Israeli media, National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi is leading the Israeli delegation, along with intelligence (Shin Bet) chief Ronen Bar and military general Ghassan Alian.

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