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Israeli, Palestinian officials meet to prevent escalation in West Bank

A Palestinian uses a piece of wood to move a burning tyre during clashes with Israeli troops in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on December 13, 2018
ABBAS MOMANI (AFP)
Jordan, Egypt pressured for talks, as tensions in the West Bank remain high.

Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian Authority's minister for civil affairs, travelled to Jerusalem on Monday to hold a meeting with Israeli officials.

The meeting was first reported by Palestinian sources and did not yet attract comments from the Israeli government.

According to Israel's public broadcaster Kan, al-Sheikh met with officials including Nadav Argaman, the head of Israel's interior security service, the Shin Bet.

In the meeting, al-Sheikh reportedly conveyed "a clear message to Israel that the situation is no longer tolerable".

Talking to Palestinian nerws agency Maan, the official said that "the agreements signed between the Palestinian Authority and Israel are at stake," adding that the PA will be hosting emergency talks to decide of next steps.

The meeting happened at the behest of Jordan and Egypt, with the regional players appealing to the international community for support in resolving the situation.

Jordan's foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, condemned the Israeli government's decision to legalize thousands of settlement homes in the West Bank following the week of violence.

"Settlement is a unilateral and illegitimate practice that perpetuates occupation and undermines the chances of conflict resolution", Safadi tweeted.

Egypt's representative at the Arab League also called on Israel to end the escalation at a meeting in Cairo. 

"Put an end to any action that could deteriorate the situation and undermine efforts to revive the peace process", he asked.

- Tensions remain high -

The West Bank remains on high alert, as Palestinian sources reported multiple instances of settler actions overnight.

A "price tag" attacks took place in the village of Yasuf, south of Nablus, where cars' tires were slashed and the walls of a mosque were spray painted with slogans calling on Jews to "wake up"

"I do not sleep when blood is shed", the graffiti said.

"Price tag" attacks have seen an uptick in the area, even before last week's attacks.

Palestinian sources also reported that settler activists gathered at Mar Saba, a 5th century Christian orthodox monastery, where they performed religious rituals under Israeli army supervision.

AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed

The Israeli military and border police arrested 24 Palestinians overnight on "suspicion of involvement in terrorism".

This comes as the Israeli government moved to impose tougher sanctions on the families of Palestinian terrorists.

Different factions within Israel's right-wing government, which is deeply divided, have scrambled to show support for settlers, as the minority group expressed their anger in a string of protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The Israeli parliament on Monday decided to advance a bill that would allow for the removal of terrorists' families to a different area of the West Bank, despite a negative opinion from Israel's attorney general.

Meanwhile, families of victims of terrorist attacks are putting pressure on the government to hasten house demolitions, in a policy that is coming under increasing scrutiny from critics for its lack of effectiveness.

On Monday morning, Israeli forces demolished the house of Ashraf Na'alwa, the attacker who killed two Israelis in the Barkan factory in October, and was shot last week.

During the day, Palestinians were already reportedly collecting money in order to rebuild the house.

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