Amid an alarming uptick in violence, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is closing up a two-day trip to Israel and the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.
A day after seeing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blinken met Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Tuesday.
Blinken emphasized the Biden administration’s value in finding a two-state solution to end the protracted conflict while standing next to the Israeli prime minister.
Beyond calling for a reduction in tension, Blinken did not present any fresh U.S. initiatives.
There were no indications that Blinken was making anything toward even the modest objective of stopping the most recent round of violence, much less dealing with the more significant issues related to peace talks.
Hard-liners who reject Palestinian statehood make up the majority of Netanyahu’s far-right government and are reluctant to make even small compromises.
In the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, Blinken’s arrival coincides with one of the bloodiest fighting outbreaks in recent memory.
The administration’s already challenging efforts to establish common ground with Netanyahu’s administration have been made more difficult by the bloodshed.
Blinken was scheduled to speak about the Palestinian Authority’s decision to stop coordinating security with Israel in Ramallah.
The security links said to have restrained violence in the past are highly unpopular with Palestinians on the street, who accuse Abbas of acting as an Israeli military contractor’s agent.
Blinken met with Yair Lapid, the head of Israel’s opposition, before traveling to the West Bank.
The secretary expressed his concern about the West Bank’s deteriorating security situation and the need for immediate action to stop further casualties.
According to his office, Secretary Blinken reaffirmed that both Israelis and Palestinians should enjoy comparable levels of security, prosperity, and freedom.
Following his discussion with Blinken on Monday, Netanyahu briefly mentioned the Palestinians before turning his attention to Iran, which he considers his top security concern.
Additionally, Blinken’s remarks were not well received by Netanyahu’s coalition allies.
In response to two shootings in east Jerusalem over the weekend, national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, the head of the ultranationalist Jewish Power party, threatened to continue taking drastic action against the Palestinians.
Ben-Gvir promised to demolish Palestinian homes and hand out more weapons to Israeli civilians.
Another ultranationalist, Cabinet Minister Orit Strock, protested Blinken’s remarks that were interpreted as attacking the Israeli government’s proposal to reform the nation’s judiciary and undermine the Supreme Court.
Blinken expressed “support for core democratic principles and institutions” during his meeting with Netanyahu, including “the equal administration of justice for all, the equal rights of minority groups, and the rule of law.”
Detractors contend that Netanyahu’s proposal will undermine the nation’s judicial system and its democratic system of checks and balances.
Strok charged Blinken with interfering with Israeli domestic matters in a statement to the public broadcaster Kan.
She argued that he didn’t need to become involved in internal problems in the state of Israel because we aren’t the 51st or 52nd state of the United States. ‘It’s not his job.’
Blinken spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant before departing Jerusalem for Ramallah, who reiterated the prime minister’s worry about Iran.
Gallant replied, “Your visit comes at a crucial time. “It sends a strong message to the area that Israel and the United States stand together against Iran and anyone who poses a danger to regional peace and stability.”
Blinken concurred that it was essential to work together to combat Iran and stop it from getting nuclear weapons.
He said that the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security remains “ironclad,” but he hinted that he had other plans. We currently have a lot on our hands, so he remarked that you couldn’t have come to me at a better time.