Palestinian officials to demand 'a stop to Israeli aggressions' at Sunday Sharm el-Sheikh summit
The Palestinian Authority said it will be making demands for an end to Israel’s occupation and violence in the West Bank on Sunday, during a meeting in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The Palestinian delegation will "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", said Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)'s Executive Committee Secretary General.
Sunday's meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh is a follow-up to last month's US-brokered meeting in Aqaba, Jordan, according to the Palestinian Wafa agency, and will aim to discuss measures preventing a further escalation of violence in the West Bank, before the advent of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan next week.
Violence often occurs during the holy Muslim month - particularly in Jerusalem - as Israeli settlers regularly storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, while Israeli forces step up their aggression against Muslim worshippers at the holy site.
The Palestinian Authority has agreed to attend the summit in Egypt amid pressure from the US, following a meeting between al-Sheikh and the US Special Envoy for Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr in Ramallah earlier this year, according to the PLO's website.
The meeting on 19 March, when discussions on bilateral and regional issues will take place, will be attended by officials from Israel, Jordan, Egypt and the US.
In an interview with Israeli broadcaster Kan, al-Sheikh said the Palestinian leadership "needs guarantees that Israel will apply the previous agreements before participating in the Egyptian Sharm El-Sheikh summit", while the channel said the meeting is a "last chance to calm the situation" in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Al-Sheikh also stressed that Israel had already "disavowed agreements made with the Palestinian side through daily incursions into Area A, killings, arrests, and settlements", as Israeli settlers stormed the town of Hawara, a mere hours after the Aqaba summit, torching and vandalising Palestinian property.
The violence - described as one of the worst recent settler attacks - left one Palestinian man dead, and hundreds more injured.
Earlier that day, far-right Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich called for Hawara to be "wiped out", prompting outrage from the international community.
In another contradictory move, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu also denied the summit’s promise to halt settler construction in the occupied territories.
Additionally, al-Sheikh said that Tel Aviv is still "withholding millions of tax revenues from the PA", which it had promised to send over following the Aqaba summit's conclusion.
The PA’s participation in the Aqaba summit, however, was met with criticism from the likes of Hamas, lambasting them for "joining participants who represent Zionist interests". Experts also told The New Arab that the meeting "had absolutely no effect on the ground".
Moreover, the Palestinian National Initiative political party on Saturday called on the PA to withdraw from Sunday’s meeting in Egypt, warning of the "dangers of succumbing to Israeli and American pressures", due to the cyclical nature of Israeli-incited violence.
In a statement to the Wattan news website, the party said that the PA should focus on "moving towards building a unified national leadership on a national strategy of struggle against the [Israeli] regime", instead of meeting with representatives of Israel’s "fascist government".
The meeting will come after four Palestinians, including a teenager, were gunned down by Israeli forces on Thursday in Jenin, the latest in a spate of violence carried out by Israel in the occupied territories.
Since the beginning of the year, Israeli forces have conducted near-daily violent raids in the West Bank, notably the cities of Nablus and Jenin, killing at least 80 Palestinians - including 16 children - in what has been described as some of the bloodiest months in recent Palestinian memory.