Israel, the United States, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority issued a joint statement Sunday evening in which they said that Jerusalem has pledged not to discuss the construction of new housing units in the settlements for four months and not to approve outposts for six months.
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According to the joint statement, drawn up as officials met in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, both Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to find ways to ease tensions in the area and pave the way for a "peaceful settlement" between the parties. They have also reaffirmed their commitment to promoting security, stability, and peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
In addition, the parties also emphasized the importance of creating a diplomatic prospect for peace and addressing pressing issues through direct dialogue. Both sides have pledged to stop unilateral actions, although the construction in the settlements and the approval of outposts were the only specific mentions.
Furthermore, the statement underscores the "unwavering commitment" of both sides to all previous agreements, including the Palestinian Authority being responsible for security in Area A in the West Bank.
This freshly minted commitment comes against the backdrop of Israeli criticism of the Palestinian Authority’s failure to stave off terrorist activity in the territories under its control and almost nightly Israeli counterterrorism raids in the Jenin and Nablus areas.
During the meeting, it was agreed that the parties would establish a mechanism to prevent and control violence, incitement, and inflammatory statements and actions.
This mechanism will be evaluated at the next summit, which will take place in April in Sharm el-Sheikh. It was also decided to create a mechanism that will take the necessary measures to enhance the economic conditions of the Palestinian people, as stated in previous agreements, and to considerably improve the financial situation of the Palestinian Authority.
Furthermore, the statement highlighted the commitment of Israel and the Palestinians to maintaining the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem, with Jordan as the custodian of these sites.
The parties stressed the importance of preventing any activities that could damage the sanctity of these sites, particularly during Ramadan, which coincides this year with Passover and Easter.
Meanwhile, new violence in the West Bank threatened to cast a shadow over Egyptian-mediated efforts.
An Israeli man was shot in front of his wife by a Palestinian gunman in the West Bank town of Huwara on Sunday.
According to the Magen David Adom ambulance service, the victim, who was later identified as 41-year-old David Stern, was in moderate but stable condition. His wife was treated for shock. The two were transported to Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva.
David Stern, a former U.S. Marine, returned fire at his attacker and managed to hit him. Doctors at the hospital described Stren surviving a "miracle" as he sustained impact to the head.
Israeli security forces launched a manhunt after the wounded gunman, identified as 28-year-old Leith Nassr, who fled on foot and was apprehended shortly thereafter after hiding in a nearby residential home. The suspect suffered serious injuries.
The terrorist fired at the vehicle at point-blank range using an improvised Carlo submachine gun — a homemade weapon modeled after the Swedish-made Carl Gustav m/45.
About 20 bullets were fired at the vehicle by the attacker and from it by Stern who returned fire. Footage from the scene shows the windshield of the vehicle spattered with bullet holes.
Large forces are to be deployed to the Palestinian town, which is nestled between Nablus and Yitzhar, to prevent a repeat of last month's settler riots.