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NEW YORK: Oil prices fell over 2% on Monday as diplomatic efforts in the Middle East intensified in an attempt to contain the conflict between Israel and Hamas, easing investor concerns about potential supply disruptions.

Brent crude futures were down $2.02, or 2.2%, at $90.14 a barrel as of 12:55 p.m. EDT (1655 GMT). US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down $2.19, or 2.5%, at $85.89 a barrel. European Union leaders will call for a “humanitarian pause” in the conflict this week so that aid can reach Palestinians in Gaza, with the leaders of France and the Netherlands set to visit Israel this week.

Aid convoys started to arrive in the Gaza Strip from Egypt over the weekend. “The imminent risk to supply seems to have gone down,” said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group. “People are paring back positions until they see how this plays out.”

Still, Israel continued its bombardment of Gaza on Monday after launching air strikes over southern Lebanon overnight. Both oil benchmarks notched week-on-week gains for the last two weeks, on the possibility of supply disruption in the Middle East — the world’s biggest oil-supplying region — if the conflict were to spread. ————”Escalating wrath in the region will strengthen economic headwinds, potentially rising oil prices will push global inflation higher, monetary tightening could resume, and global oil demand growth will be dented,” said PVM analyst Tamas Varga.

—Elsewhere, US President Joe Biden last week announced the suspension of sanctions on OPEC member Venezuela, after a Venezuelan government deal with the opposition. That could bring exports back to the market, but the extent to which this could mitigate the impact of supply risks in the Middle East is unclear.

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