Israeli, Palestinian ministers discuss West Bank violence, amid US concerns

Israeli, Palestinian ministers discuss West Bank violence, amid US concerns
After a weekend of violence in which 8 Palestinians and four Israeli settlers were killed, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant discussed the wave of violence with an unnamed senior official of the Palestinian Authority.
2 min read
27 June, 2023
Palestinian towns and villages were assaulted by Israeli settlers last week [Getty]

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and a senior Palestinian official discussed violence in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, with Gallant's office saying he offered reassurance about Israel's intention to crack down on settler riots.

Both the phone call and the announcement that it took place were unusual for Israel's far-right government and followed mounting expressions of U.S. concern about the situation in the West Bank.

The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday "called on all parties to refrain from unilateral actions that further inflame tensions" and urged restraint to reduce tension and prevent further escalation.

During a council meeting on Tuesday, Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood said Washington would work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to lower tensions and restore trust in a bid to create conditions to bring them back to talks.

"We call on all parties to refrain from unilateral actions, including settlement activity, evictions, and the demolition of Palestinian homes, terrorism and incitement to violence, all of which serve to only further inflame the situation," Wood said.

A shooting that killed four Israeli settlers outside an illegal West Bank settlement sparked days of violent incursions into Palestinian villages and towns by groups of Jewish settlers. Twelve suspects have been arrested in the latter incidents, Israeli police said.

"Israel views with gravity the violence inflicted upon Palestinian civilians in recent days by extremist elements", Gallant's office quoted him as telling Hussein Al-Sheikh, an official in the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organisation.

"Israel would exact full penalty of the law from the rioters," Gallant added, according to the statement.

There was no immediate comment from Al-Sheikh's office.

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Israeli forces, which intensified raids against suspected Palestinian militants over the last 15 months, will continue to operate "anywhere required", Gallant said, while describing a calming of the West Bank as his common interest with Al-Sheikh. Last week's violence began with a raid on Jenin on Monday, where at least 7 Palestinians, including a 15-year-old girl, were killed.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, whose role is largely ceremonial, also spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday for the occasion of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, a statement from Herzog's office said.

Herzog "underlined his unequivocal denouncement of the recent assault on innocent Palestinians by extremists".