On a trip to the Middle East, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday expressed regret over the deaths of innocent Palestinians amid escalating tensions with Israel.
Responsible for the diplomacy of the government of the democrat Joe Biden, Blinken met with the president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank, one day after meeting the prime minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, to whom he asked for urgent measures to alleviate the ongoing conflict.
The American expressed a pessimistic view on the unfolding of the situation, stating that he sees “an ever-shrinking horizon of hope” for the conflict. Before meeting Abbas in Ramallah, he met Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Jerusalem. The Israeli thanked him for what he said was Blinken’s unconditional support of Israel’s right to defend itself.
Last Friday (27), a shooting attack on a synagogue in the neighborhood of Neve Yaakov left seven people dead. A day later, on Saturday (28), a father and son were injured after an attack by a Palestinian teenager near their home in the Old City.
Prior to the episodes, an Israeli Army incursion into the West Bank had killed ten Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority then stated that it would end its partnership with Israel in the area of security.
The cooperation, which has been interrupted in other times of crisis, is seen by many as responsible for preventing attacks against Tel Aviv and maintaining some stability in the West Bank. Washington regretted the decision and said it feared a worsening of the situation.
Since the beginning of this year, the conflict has left 35 Palestinians dead, a number that includes the perpetrators of the attacks killed by the police, individuals who belonged to criminal groups and also civilians, addressed in Blinken’s speeches. 2022 was the deadliest year in the West Bank since the UN began tracking and counting casualties in the region in 2005.
On his trip, the US Secretary of State has advocated that a sense of security be re-established for both Israelis and Palestinians. He said he had warned all parties — both in Jerusalem and Ramallah — that the United States was against any action that threatened the now-frozen two-state solution, with an independent Palestinian state and the state of Israel.
“We’ve made it clear that this includes things like expanding Israeli settlements, as well as demolitions, evictions and disturbances to sacred historic sites,” he said.
After the recent attack on the synagogue in Israel, politicians allied with the government of Bibi, as the prime minister is known, started to defend that more Israeli settlements be built. The government has also launched an offensive against the homes and rights of families of Palestinians who fired at Israelis.
Scheduled for several months, the Secretary of State’s trip gained a new dimension with the increase in violence in the region. Blinken began his journey through Egypt, a historic mediator in the conflict. The country was the first Arab nation to sign a peace agreement with Israel, in 1979. The Egyptian Presidency stated that the country is working to try to “control the focus of tensions”.
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