Kicking off a major visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories on Monday, the chief of US diplomacy said, Anthony Blinkencondemned the terror attack last Friday in which a 21-year-old Palestinian killed seven people outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem, and called on both sides to ease tensions that have risen in recent weeks. In Blinken’s words, the United States “condemns all who celebrate this and any other act of terrorism that takes innocent lives, regardless of who the victim is or what they believe.”
“We urge all parties to take urgent steps to restore calm and reduce tension,” Blinken said after his meeting with the Israeli prime minister. Benjamin Netanyahu. “We want to make sure there is an environment in which we can, hopefully at some point, create conditions in which we can begin to restore to both Israelis and Palestinians a sense of security, which of course is so badly needed,” he added. According to what was reported by the journalists who accompanied him.
This is a visit of particular importance because it is the first time that the top diplomat of the current US Democratic administration has visited Israel after the return to power of Netanyahu, who was ousted by an opposition coalition in June 2021. The veteran conservative politician has returned to Israel. Prime Minister in December 2022, he launched a controversial reform of the judicial system that sparked fierce protests in parliament and on the streets. Netanyahu is accused in a corruption case that is still pending in Israeli courts.
Netanyahu spent years boycotting the Iran nuclear deal brokered by Barack Obama and Biden, when the latter was vice president. Now he received the US Secretary of State days after the attack on some Iranian military installations by drones or drones. Many American media, including The New York Times, attribute this mysterious attack to the Israeli security forces. Before that happened, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and CIA Director William Burns were seen in Jerusalem with Netanyahu.
Blinken’s visit had been planned for weeks, but it comes after increased tensions between the two parties. Last Thursday, nine Palestinians were killed in an Israeli military raid on a refugee camp in the city of Jenin, and the tenth north of Jerusalem. Among the dead in Jenin was a 61-year-old woman who died, according to her family, in front of the window of her house when she was hit by random fire.
The Israeli army later said through a spokesman that the soldiers had entered the town in the occupied West Bank to prevent “terrorist operatives” from the Islamic Jihad movement planning “major attacks”. A 13-year-old boy was killed on Saturday after shooting and wounding two Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem.
Meeting with Abbas
Aside from the usual calls for détente, Blinken made no further assessments or proposals. Usually, the US administration distributes an updated version of the peace plan with more or less similar proposals for achieving a complete cessation of military occupation and hostilities. This is not the case with the Biden team, which has so far focused on other, more immediate crises, such as the coronavirus pandemic or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On Tuesday, Blinken will meet with the Palestinian leader Mahmoud AbbasAfter the White House reversed Donald Trump’s policy of cutting ties with Palestinian leaders.
One of the points where Biden has delved into Trump’s policies is promoting and establishing new diplomatic relations between Israel and key Arab countries. In the so-called Abraham Accords, Israel initiated mutual recognition with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and later Morocco. In the past months, the White House has tried to extend these agreements to Saudi Arabia, which is now complicating this increase in tension in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Israel established diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1980 and with Jordan in 1994.
After meeting with Blinken, Netanyahu referred to those diplomatic goals. In his only reference to the Palestinians, he said, as Reuters reported, “Widening the circle of peace, and working to finally end the Arab-Israeli conflict, I think will also help us achieve a viable solution with our Palestinian neighbors.”
Blinken called on Netanyahu not to make an end to the conflict, if it happens, dependent on diplomatic relations with Arab countries
But Blinken called on Netanyahu not to make ending the conflict, if it happens, contingent on diplomatic relations with Arab countries: “These efforts are not a substitute for progress between Israelis and Palestinians, but as we move forward with integration with Israel we can do so in a way that improves the daily lives of Palestinians.” West Bank and Gaza Strip“, he added.
On the same Monday, before Blinken arrived in Israel, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that Israeli forces had killed a Palestinian in the city of Hebron hours earlier, resulting in the death of a Palestinian. 35, the number of deceased In the occupied area in this month of January.