SIGN UP for our newsletter ✉️ :

Get the latest stories delivered straight to you

Israelis, Palestinians meet amid West Bank violence

Palestinian and Israeli officials have agreed during face-to-face talks to take steps to build mutual confidence following a rash of deadly violence.

But the ferocity of the situation was underscored on Sunday evening when Israeli settlers rampaged through a northern town in the occupied West Bank, setting the homes and vehicles of Palestinians on fire, following the killing of two Israeli brothers by a gunman hours before.

The talks earlier on Sunday in Jordan's port city of Aqaba were believed to be the first such meeting between the two sides in years, and were also attended by representatives from the US, Jordan and Egypt.

The participants agreed to "strengthen mutual trust" and "to address outstanding issues through direct dialogue," Jordan's state news agency Petra reported, citing a statement after the meeting.

The talks resulted in an Israeli commitment to halt discussion of creating any new West Bank settlements for four months and stop authorisation of any new settlement outposts for six months.

Israel's delegation was headed by National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi.

In a bid to lower hostilities, the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority emphasized their joint readiness to halt "unilateral measures" for a period of three to six months, the agency said without details.

The participants agreed to meet again in Egypt's resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh next month for further talks.

The Aqaba talks were held as two Israelis died in the West Bank on Sunday when their vehicle was fired on in the town of Hawara. A manhunt was launched for the gunman.

After the attack, in which two brothers aged 20 and 22 were killed, Israeli settlers rioted in Hawara in the evening.

Israeli television reported that they set fire to more than 30 Palestinian homes, shops and cars.

Several Palestinian families were rescued from their burning homes by security forces. According to the Ministry of Health, a Palestinian was fatally injured by gunfire.

The Israeli army said it is increasing its presence on the ground to prevent further acts of violence.

Sunday's brutality followed an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday, in which 11 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 people were injured.

Since the start of the year, 10 Israelis and a Ukrainian have been killed in attacks by Palestinians, and 62 Palestinians have died in confrontations with the Israeli military or been killed while making an attack.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved a draft law that would provide for the death penalty for terrorists.

The controversial proposal still has to pass several readings in Parliament before it comes into force. A first vote is expected on Wednesday.

Israel seized the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War.

More than 600,000 Israeli settlers now live in these areas, which the Palestinians claim for an independent state of their own with East Jerusalem as its capital.