Middle East Blinken Renews Appeal for Peace in Israel and Palestine

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JERUSALEM (AFP) US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken concluded a two-day visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

Blinken met Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday, a day after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Standing alongside Israeli leaders, Brinken emphasized the importance of the Biden administration to resolving the longstanding conflict with a two-state solution.

But Blinken offered no new U.S. initiative to do so, other than to encourage a de-escalation of tensions. Even with the modest goal of stopping the latest round of violence, let alone addressing broader issues surrounding peace talks, there was no sign that Blinken was making headway. Abbas blamed them all for the increase in violence against Israel and accused the international community of doing nothing more to put pressure on Israel.

Blinken’s visit is one of the deadliest fighting in recent years in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Violence further complicates the government’s already arduous attempt to find common ground with Netanyahu’s government.

In Ramallah, Blinken was to discuss the Palestinian authorities’ decision to end security cooperation with Israel. Security ties, believed to have helped stem violence in the past, are highly unpopular with ordinary Palestinians who accuse Abbas of subcontracting the Israeli army. Before leaving for the West Bank, Brinken met with Israeli opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

After meeting with Brinken on Monday, Netanyahu only mentioned the Palestinians and instead focused on Iran.

Netanyahu’s coalition partners also calmly reacted to Blinken’s statement.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gwir, leader of the ultranationalist Jewish Power Party, has announced punishment for Palestinians in response to his two shootings in East Jerusalem over the weekend. promised to take further action. Ben-Gvir promised to demolish Palestinian homes and distribute more weapons to Israeli civilians. Cabinet Minister Olit Strock, another ultranationalist, refuted Blinken’s comments. This was seen as a criticism of the Israeli government’s plans to overhaul the country’s judicial system and undermine the Supreme Court.

In his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Mr Brinken expressed his “support for fundamental democratic principles and institutions”, which included “equal administration of justice for all, equal rights for minorities and his groups, Includes rule of law. Critics say Netanyahu’s plan will undermine the country’s judicial system and destroy the democratic system of checks and balances.

Mr Strock accused Mr Brinken of interfering in Israel’s internal affairs, telling public broadcaster Mr Kang.

Brinken agreed with his unit when it came to confronting Iran and prevented it from acquiring nuclear weapons. He said the US commitment to Israel’s security remained “solid” but suggested there was more to his agenda. “We couldn’t have met at a better time because we have so much work to do at the moment,” he said.

January is shaping up to be the deadliest month in years for the West Bank and East Jerusalem. About 35 Palestinians were killed in the fighting last Thursday, including 10 killed in an Israeli military attack in the hotspot city of Jenin.

The violence comes months after arrests of Israelis in the West Bank, which began after a series of Palestinian attacks against Israelis that killed 19 people in the spring of 2022.

But this month, in the first weeks of Netanyahu’s new far-right government, he took a tough stance on the Palestinians and vowed to speed up the construction of the settlements.