Israeli and Palestinian representatives met in Jordan Sunday for "political-security" talks aimed at restoring calm after violence that included the deadliest Israeli raid on the occupied West Bank in years.
However, as the talks were under way two Israelis were killed in a "Palestinian terror attack", a joint statement in Israel said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, said "two Israeli civilians were killed in a Palestinian terror attack" after a shooting in Huwara in the northern West Bank.
In Jordan, state broadcaster Al-Mamlaka said the meeting in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba was "the first of its kind in years between Palestinians and Israelis with regional and international participation", and would address "the situation in the Palestinian territories".
An Israeli government official, requesting anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly about the talks, said their delegation included national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Ronen Bar, head of the Shin Bet domestic security agency.
The delegates would "discuss ways to calm security tensions in the region ahead of the month of Ramadan", which begins in less than a month, the Israeli official added.
Sources with knowledge of the meeting said Palestinian intelligence chief Majed Faraj was also set to attend.
US National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk, as well as Jordanian and Egyptian security officials, were also there.
King Abdullah II met McGurk and stressed "the importance of intensifying efforts to push for calm, de-escalation in the Palestinian territories, and stopping any unilateral measures that would destabilise stability and undermine the chances of achieving peace," a royal court statement said.
- International concern -
Al-Mamlaka said in the afternoon that talks had ended with "agreement on a number of steps".
Sunday's meeting came amid international concerns over intensifying unrest between Israel and the Palestinians.
A Jordanian government official told AFP on Saturday the talks were aimed at "building trust" and agreeing "security and economic measures to ease the hardships of the Palestinian people".
Netanyahu returned to power in late December at the head of a coalition government regarded as one of the most right-wing in Israel's history.
The veteran hawk has handed key West Bank powers to far-right ministers.
News of the Palestinian leadership's decision to attend the Jordan talks drew criticism from other factions after 11 Palestinians were killed Wednesday in a gun battle when Israeli troops raided the West Bank city of Nablus.
The death toll was the highest since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, ended in 2005, the year the United Nations started tracking casualties.
"The decision to take part in the Aqaba meeting despite the pain and massacres being endured by the Palestinian people comes from a desire to bring an end to the bloodshed," the ruling Fatah movement of president Mahmud Abbas had said on Twitter.
Khaled al-Batsh, a leader of the Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza, told reporters the Palestinian Authority's talking part was "a dangerous national transgression of all national norms in light of the ongoing occupation crimes in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem".
He warned the PA of "consequences".
Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, in a statement also rejected PA participation.
It called the talks "a blatant attempt to cover up ongoing occupation crimes, and a green light for it to carry out violations against our people and land and holy sites".
© Agence France-Presse
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