Blinken urges Israel-Palestinian calm as violence soars. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Monday urged Israel. And the Palestinians to exercise restraint and de-escalate tensions amid. An escalation of violence that has left the region on edge.
Blinken, speaking in Cairo hours before a two-day visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank.
It was essential for both sides to work to defuse tensions that have risen since last week. Which he called “a new and terrifying one”. surge in violence” and called for a strong response from everyone.
“We will encourage the parties to take steps to calm the situation.” Blinken told reporters at a joint news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. “There is no question that this is a very difficult moment.”
He repeated the United States’ condemnation of the militant attacks against Israelis. And noted that “we regret the loss of innocent civilian life.”
The latest violence came last week when an Israeli military operation. On a West Bank militant base in Jenin killed 10 people, militants. And seven Israelis were shot dead by Palestinians in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.
And, on Monday, shortly before Blinken’s arrival. The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli forces killed. A Palestinian man in the flashpoint city of Hebron. Bringing the number of Palestinians killed in January to 35.
The violence comes months after an Israeli arrest operation in the West Bank. Which began in the spring of 2022 after a wave of Palestinian attacks. Against Israelis in which 19 people were killed.
But it has risen this month in the first weeks of the new far-right government. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has vowed to take. A tougher stance against Palestinians and ramp up settlement building.
Blinken’s visit follows visits to Israel. By President Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan. And CIA Director William Burns. But Blinken’s meeting will be the highest-level US engagement with Netanyahu since. He returned to power last month and the first since violence escalated.
The visit, planned before the explosion.
Was already expected to be fraught with tension over differences. Between the Biden administration and Netanyahu’s government. Which is made up of settlement supporters.
After the Jenin raid, the Palestinians said they would cancel security coordination with Israel. And after attacks against Israelis intensified. Israel said it would close Jewish settlements in the West Bank, among other measures.
Israeli Army Radio reported late Sunday that the government was also ready to approve. A rogue outpost deep in the West Bank and speed up approval for other such smaller settlements.
Israel also arrested 42 Palestinians. Some relatives of the Jerusalem attacker, in the investigation into the attack. And firebrand National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gavir said. He had ordered authorities to demolish built. Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem in response to the attack.
Palestinians believe that Israeli retaliation. Which includes demolishing the homes of attackers’ families. Amounts to collective punishment and is illegal under international law.
The unrest added another item to Blinken’s long diplomatic agenda in Jerusalem. That was already set to include Russia’s war on Ukraine. Tensions with Iran and the crises in Lebanon and Syria. All which have significant implications for US-Israel relations.
De-escalating these issues, or at least avoiding new ones. Central to Blinken’s mission despite Netanyahu’s opposition to two of Biden’s top Middle East priorities. Reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. But, with both issues stalled and little hope of a resumption of talks. The administration is just trying to keep the ideas on life support.