Israel Palestine conflict: US envoy arrives in Tel Aviv for de-escalation talks

US President Joe Biden's administration has had to rapidly step up on the diplomatic front without a full team in place

A US envoy has arrived in Tel Aviv for de-escalation talks as violence between Israel and the Palestinians continues.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israel and Palestinian Affairs, Hady Amr, will take part in talks with Israeli, Palestinian and UN officials and reinforce what US diplomats said was the need for a “sustainable calm”.

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The U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, which tweeted a photo of Amr arriving, said the envoy aims to “reinforce the need to work toward a sustainable calm, recognizing Israel’s right to self-defense. Israelis and Palestinians deserve equal measures of freedom, security, dignity and prosperity.”

Unrest continued on Saturday (15 May), with Israeli air strikes on targets in the Gaza Strip killing 10 people (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden's administration has had to rapidly step up on the diplomatic front without a full team in place, including no nominee yet for ambassador to Israel.

Worst violence in Gaza since 2014

Unrest continued on Saturday (15 May), with Israeli air strikes on targets in the Gaza Strip killing 10 people, while Palestinina militants there fired rockets in Israel.

The clashes between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians in the last week are the worst seen in the region since 2014.

On Friday, clashes spread to the West Bank, with at least 11 Palestinians killed and hundreds injured.

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Saturday is the day when Palestinians commemorate what they call al-Nakba, the Catastrophe. It marks the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were forced or driven from their homes in the Arab-Israeli war which began the day after Israel's declaration of independence in 1948.

What is behind the violence?

The current eruption of violence began a month ago in Jerusalem, where heavy-handed Israeli police tactics during Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers ignited protests and clashes with police.

Violence has erupted after days of mounting tensions between Palestinians and Israeli authorities in the Old City of Jerusalem, the emotional ground zero of the conflict.

Hundreds of Palestinians and about two dozen police officers have been hurt over the past few days amid the worst religious unrest in years.

The holy site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is considered the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam.

The compound is the epicentre of the conflict and has been the trigger for rounds of Israel-Palestinian violence in the past.

This year Jerusalem Day clashes with the holy month of Ramadan, with religious sensitivities heightened. This, paired with the eviction of Palestinians from the predominantly East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah has resulted in three nights of violence across Israel, with both Palestinians and Israelis carrying out reprisal attacks.

East Jerusalem is at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict with the Jewish state effectively annexing the area in 1980. Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the future capital of an independent state.