Blinken to meet Palestinian leaders, rounding off Middle East trip

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  January 31, 2023

US Secretary of State will hold talks with President Mahmoud Abbas, days after he announced PA would end security coordination with Israel

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet Palestinian leaders on Tuesday, rounding off his Middle East trip which takes place during a significant increase in violence in Israel and occupied Palestine

Blinken will hold talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohamed Shtayyeh in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, a day after meeting premier Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo.

Tensions have been at a high after an Israeli raid on Jenin refugee camp on Thursday killed nine Palestinians. The next day, a Palestinian killed seven Israelis in a settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.

“It is the responsibility of everyone to take steps to calm tensions rather than inflame them,” Blinken said on Monday, after landing in Tel Aviv. 

He condemned the shooting of Israelis outside a building used as a synagogue in a settlement in occupied East Jerusalem, describing it as “as an attack on the universal act of practicing one’s faith”. 

“And we condemn all those who celebrate these and any other acts of terrorism that take innocent lives, no matter who the victim is or what they believe. Calls for vengeance against more innocent victims are not the answer.”

Support for two-state solution at record low

Last week, Abbas announced that the Palestinian Authority would end security coordination with Israel after the Jenin camp operation – one of the deadliest raids on the occupied West Bank in recent years. 

Blinken is expected to urge the PA to resume coordination with Israel, and work towards a two-state solution. 

On Monday he told Netanyahu that moving away from a two-state solution would be “detrimental to Israel’s long term security and long term identity as a Jewish and democratic state”.

Support for a two state solution is at an all-time low among both Palestinians and Israelis, according to survey analysis published last week by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Research. 

53% of Jewish Israelis and two-thirds of Palestinians said they opposed a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. 

Over the past year, Israeli violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank has been getting more deadly and frequent, prompting a rise in armed Palestinian resistance.

At least 35 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of January. Seven Israelis were killed in that period, all during Friday’s shooting. 

Last year, more Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem than in any single calendar year since the Second Intifada

At least 220 people died in Israeli attacks across the occupied territories in 2022, including 48 children.

Of the total death toll, 167 were from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and 53 were from the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, last year Palestinians killed at least 29 Israelis, including one child, the highest death toll since 2008.