February 26, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel, Palestinians Reaffirm Need to Work Together

February 26, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel, Palestinians Reaffirm Need to Work Together

Latest Developments

Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) reaffirmed past peace deals at a Jordanian-hosted meeting on Sunday and pledged to work together to tamp down West Bank violence. The rare convening of senior Israeli and PA civil servants in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba marked a breakthrough for long-stalled bilateral contacts, with Jordan, Egypt, and the United States attending in a show of regional sponsorship.

Expert Analysis

“While there is value to getting Israeli and PA officials back around the negotiating table, Prime Minister Netanyahu may be hard-put to persuade his electorate — or any Israelis, for that matter — about the worth of a Jordanian-hosted summit that appears to been meant to place the onus for West Bank violence on Israel. Restraining settlement growth on a day when two brothers from a settlement are murdered is a bitter pill to swallow. If the PA cannot deliver its own crackdown against West Bank terrorists, it can at least show good faith by ending its pernicious ‘pay-to-slay’ policy.

“The Biden administration took a back seat on this conference, sending delegates but letting Jordan and Egypt take the organizational lead. But Washington must not abdicate its role as Israel’s ally. The rightist coalition government in Israel will not long tolerate one-sided resolutions orchestrated by Amman or Cairo.”  Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Thirty years have passed since the Oslo Accords, and much has changed. The Palestinians can no longer claim to be represented by a unitary leadership — and, indeed, their anti-peace elements are dominant. For the Aqaba’s communique to be more than mere lip-service, its participants must confront the changes on the ground and form a new, more credible vision for lasting Israeli-Palestinian accommodation.” Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Talks Proceed as Violence Looms

The meeting in Jordan aimed to put an end to a year-old surge in Palestinian terrorism, including today’s attack that killed two young Israeli civilians. These attacks have escalated in recent weeks as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan looms. The five-nation group that met in Aqaba agreed to reconvene next month in Sharm El-Sheikh, an Egyptian resort across the Red Sea. Until then, Israel said it would look at whether the PA might be able to take over counter-terrorism operations in the West Bank.

Pushing for Diplomacy

A Jordanian communique issued after the six-hour talks marked an effort to prod the sides back toward past diplomacy on a two-state solution to their conflict. Israel and the PA “affirmed their commitment to all previous agreements between them, and to work towards a just and lasting peace,” the communique said. It further outlined mutual steps “to end unilateral measures for a period of 3-6 months,” while specifying only an Israeli commitment to refrain from announcing new settlement construction or the retroactive authorization of settlement outposts. Israel, for its part, has demanded that the PA cease acting against it at the International Court of Justice or other fora at the United Nations.

Conflicting Messages

Geopolitical realities intruded on the Aqaba meeting before it began, with Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad condemning any PA engagement with Israel. While the talks were under way, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli brothers in their car in the West Bank. Meanwhile, two partners in the Israeli governing coalition, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, publicly spurned the call to restrain settlement growth — spelling a possible new political crisis for Netanyahu.

The head of Israel’s National Security Council insisted that Jerusalem’s policies would not change. “Contrary to reports about the meeting in Jordan, there is no change in Israel’s policy,” said Tzachi Hanegbi in a Hebrew statement. “In the coming months, Israel will legalize 9 outposts & approve 9,500 new housing units in Judea and Samaria. There is no construction freeze or change in the status quo on the Temple Mount and there is no restriction on IDF activity.”

Related Analysis

Palestinian Terror Attack Kills Two Israelis in West Bank,” FDD Flash Brief

What Would a Third Intifada Mean for Palestinians?” by Jonathan Schanzer


Arab Politics Egypt Israel Jordan Palestinian Politics