JERUSALEM ( Associated Press) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken ended a two-day visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank with a renewed call for calm amid an alarming escalation in violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
After meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the day before, Blinken will meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the West Bank in the next few hours. Standing next to the Israeli ruler, Blinken stressed the importance of his government resolving the long-running conflict through a two-state solution.
But, beyond an encouragement to reduce tensions, Blinken did not offer a new initiative on the part of the United States. There were no signs of any progress, even towards the modest goal of stopping the wave of violence, let alone the wider issues surrounding the peace talks.
Netanyahu’s far-right government is dominated by hardliners who oppose a Palestinian state and are unwilling to make minimal concessions.
Blinken is making his trip as fighting rages on in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem is at one of its deadliest peaks. The violence has added to the Joe Biden government’s difficulties in finding common ground with the Netanyahu government.
The meeting in Ramallah is expected to address the Palestinian Authority’s decision to halt security coordination with Israel. The security ties, which are believed to have helped prevent violence in the past, are rejected by ordinary Palestinians, who accuse Abbas of being a subcontractor to the Israeli armed forces.
Before leaving for the West Bank, Blinken met with the leader of the Israeli opposition, former Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
“The Secretary expressed concern about the deteriorating security situation in the West Bank and the need to take immediate action to prevent loss of life. Secretary Blinken reiterates that Israelis and Palestinians deserve the same level of security, prosperity and freedom,” his office said.
After a meeting with Blinken on Monday, Netanyahu made only a passing mention of the Palestinians and focused on Iran, which he sees as his most urgent security priority.
Netanyahu’s coalition partners also greeted Blinken’s comments coolly.