Home / News / World /  US Secretary of State Antony Blinken departs Mideast, leaving behind US officials to help restore calm

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said American officials will be staying in the Mideast after his departure in an effort to help Israelis and Palestinians reduce tensions following one of the deadliest months in Israel and the West Bank in years.

“In this moment, the most immediate challenge is, as I said, defusing the cycle of violence that has people here, first and foremost, but around the region, deeply concerned," Blinken said, adding that restarting negotiations for a Palestinian state would have to come only after calm was restored. “One step at a time."

Blinken, who headed back to Washington on Tuesday, visited Jerusalem after a deadly attack on Israelis near a Jerusalem synagogue over the weekend killed seven and an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin left nine Palestinians dead.

The top US diplomat also visited Ramallah, where Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for the current bloodshed and said that Israel is “being overlooked without deterrence or accountability and continues unilateral operations."

“Our people will not accept the continuation of the occupation forever, and the regional security will not be strengthened by violating the sanctity of the holy sites, downplaying the dignity of the Palestinian people and ignoring their legitimate rights to freedom, dignity and independence," Abbas said.

Abbas may have been referring to former President Donald Trump’s tilt toward Israel — and away from cooperation with the Palestinians — shown by steps including his decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, whose eastern sector the Palestinians seek as the capital of their state.

Blinken pledged to work to re-establish the US relationship with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority. “This will allow us to more effectively work toward the goal of Palestinians and Israelis enjoying equal measures of democracy, of opportunity, of dignity in the lives," he said. “We believe that this can be achieved by a realization of two states."

Israel Faces Identity Crisis as Violence Rages: Balance of Power

The new right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has diminished prospects for progress toward a two-state solution, but the Biden administration continues to advocate it as the best guarantor of Israel’s security and stability.

Blinken met Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and underscored the US commitment to “preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and to deepening cooperation with Israel in the face of the fuller set of challenges Iran poses," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

The secretary of state’s visit coincided with speculation that Israel was behind a drone attack in Iran that the Iranian government said hit one of its ammunition depots. Israel never confirms or denies such allegations.

Upon arriving in Israel Monday, Blinken offered condolences for those killed and injured in Friday’s terrorist attack outside the Jerusalem synagogue and a separate Saturday attack in Jerusalem. He condemned violence and those who celebrate it, and warned against retaliation.

“It’s the responsibility of everyone to take steps to calm tensions rather than inflame them, to work toward a day when people no longer feel afraid in their communities, in their homes, in their places of worship," he said. “That is the only way to halt the rising tide of violence that has taken too many lives — too many Israelis, too many Palestinians."

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less
Recommended For You
Get alerts on WhatsApp
Set Preferences My ReadsWatchlistFeedbackRedeem a Gift CardLogout