Gaza Border [Israel], November 30 (ANI): US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a crucial meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday, marking his second visit to the West Bank since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war, CNN reported.
This visit comes against the backdrop of increased Israeli settler violence in the region following the October 7 attack on Israel..
Prior to his meeting with President Abbas, Blinken engaged in discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the war cabinet in Jerusalem. This meeting occurred shortly after the extension of the truce with Hamas. The US State Department reported that Blinken affirmed the United States’ support for Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorist violence in accordance with international humanitarian law. He urged Israel to take all possible measures to minimize harm to civilians, as reported by CNN.
According to a statement by spokesperson Matt Miller, Secretary Blinken reiterated the United States’ commitment to concrete actions aimed at advancing the establishment of a Palestinian state that coexists peacefully, freely, and securely alongside Israel. Earlier in the day, Blinken also met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv, emphasising the multifaceted nature of his diplomatic efforts in the region.
In his meeting with PM Netanyahu, US Secretary Blinken reiterated US President Joe Biden’s administration’s call for the Israel Defence Forces to account for Gaza’s civilians before it expands its ground operation into the southern portion of the Strip.
Blinken “stressed the imperative of accounting for humanitarian and civilian protection needs in southern Gaza before any military operations there,” the US readout says, adding that the secretary “urged Israel to take every possible measure to avoid civilian harm.”
Over the past few weeks, the intensity of this communication has risen steadily. The United States is growing increasingly concerned about the potential for another surge in civilian casualties. This apprehension is fueled by the fact that 80 per cent of the population in southern and central Gaza now resides in these areas, following Israel’s directive for over one million Palestinians to evacuate northern Gaza. The aim was to protect them from becoming unintended victims amidst the ongoing conflict in the northern region, as reported by The Times of Israel.
US President Biden is facing significant pressure from the far-left faction of the Democratic Party, urging him to adopt a more assertive stance against Israel in response to the substantial death toll in Gaza. The health ministry controlled by Hamas reports a figure exceeding 14,000 casualties. However, these statistics lack independent verification and encompass both Palestinian militants killed by Israel and civilian casualties resulting from misfired rockets within Gaza, according to The Times of Israel.
Blinken clarified that the US still “supports Israel’s right to protect itself from terrorist violence in compliance with international humanitarian law.”
Netanyahu and Blinken also “discussed efforts to secure the release of all remaining hostages and the need to accelerate the delivery of critical, life-saving humanitarian assistance to Gaza.”
Blinken once again has raised the need for Israel to take “immediate steps to hold settler extremists accountable for violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.” Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden threatened to issue visa bans against violent settlers.
“Blinken reiterated that the United States remains committed to tangible steps to advance a Palestinian state living in peace, freedom, and security alongside Israel,” the readout says, stopping short of expressly calling for a two-state solution as other US readouts have done over the past month.
While in Israel, Blinken has met with Israel’s war cabinet and with President Isaac Herzog, The Times of Israel reported. (ANI)