Blinken: ‘Sheikh Jarrah could lead to war, situation not ready for peace’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Jaber Abdulkhaleg - Anadolu Agency)

Middle East Monitor  /  October 2, 2021

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday expressed his concerns about the expulsion of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah and increasing tension at Al-Aqsa Mosque, fearing that this could lead to a new war.

Speaking to Israeli Walla! news website, Blinken stated that the US understands the necessity to return Israeli soldiers captive in Gaza to their homes and that the US will help.

However, he rejected linking this to the reconstruction of Gaza, which: “Has urgent needs and we should give them hope.” Blinken noted: “This is the only way to prevent a new war.”

According to Walla!, Blinken shared that he spoke with Saudi and Qatari counterparts and briefed them on his talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel, asking them to mobilize the reconstruction of Gaza.

Blinken confirmed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “is still going on and needs to be treated,” pointing out that the Biden administration “does not think the current situation is ready for making major progress in the peace process” due to the political crisis in Israel and the PA’s internal instability.

He remarked that the Israeli-PA conflict could not “disappear miraculously” and that all sides “must recognize this reality.” He stressed that the most urgent issue is maintaining the ceasefire in Gaza and rebuilding it in order to tone down tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The US official said that he heard Israeli officials speaking about their desire to maintain the ceasefire, as well as the Egyptian president and officials stating that Hamas is also interested in upholding it.

“This is very important,” he added, stressing that intentional and non-intentional measures that could ignite new tension should be avoided.

He reiterated that rebuilding Gaza must be carried out jointly among the United Nations, the PA and Egypt.