After one of the bloodiest years in recent history in East Jerusalem and West Bank, the US secretary has stated that the United States will “continue o oppose any” that makes a two-state solution “further away from reach”.
Antony Blinken stated that the US is against Israeli settlement expansion and any move towards an annexation in the West Bank.
On the second day of his two-day visit to Jerusalem, the US secretary of State spoke at a Jerusalem news conference. He met with Benjamin Netanyahu , the leader of Israel, and Mahmoud Abbas the president of the Palestinian Authority.
He made these comments after the shootings that left seven people dead and five others wounded in Jerusalem by a Palestinian teenager gunman.
Since January 1, 35 Palestinians were killed in clashes against Israeli troops, with 10 of them being killed by an Israeli military raid on the flashpoint town Jenin.
On Tuesday, Mr Blinken stated that “The terror attacks on Jerusalem and the escalating violence within the West Bank have highlighted the serious challenges to security, stability, and peace that the region faces as well as that which we face.”
“A rising tide has led to the loss of innocent lives on both sides… All sides must take steps in order to stop violence from escalating further and restore calm.”
He said, “It’s President Biden’s firm conviction that (peace is possible) through preserving and then realising the vision of two States for Two Peoples.
“The United States will continue its opposition to any attempt to make that goal more difficult.
“We have been clear that this includes settlement expansion, legalization of outposts demolitions and evictions as well as disruptions to historic status of holy sites and incitement or acquiescence towards violence.
Blinken stated that he heard “deep concern” about the current trajectory during meetings with Israeli and occupied West Bank officials.
He also stated that he had heard concrete ideas from both parties that could be used to help ease the current situation.
The first visit of Mr Blinken to Israel since Mr Netanyahu’s return to power in this month’s September as the head of one the most right-leaning governments in Israel’s recent history is at a time when there’s extreme tension between them.
He stated that the “shrinking horizon” of hope facing Palestinians was something that had to change.
In the face of growing anger over near daily raids by Israeli forces on the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority (PA), suspended its security cooperation agreement last week with Israel after the largest incursion in many years.
Israeli forces entered deep into the refugee camp of Jenin in northern Israel, setting off a gunfight that saw 10 Palestinians die.
January was the bloodiest month in 2015 for Palestinians, and officials claim that Israeli settlers are targeting Palestinian property more frequently.
Blinken did not offer any concrete steps to ease tensions. It is actions and not words that are needed right now.
Although Mr. Blinken had already planned his trip to the region, it coincided with the worst period of violence in recent years.
He met the prime minister of Israel, the foreign minister of Israel, and the president of Palestine in just 24 hours. He regularly called on all sides to take action to reverse the disturbing trajectory that has resulted in the deaths or imprisonments for 35 Palestinians as well as seven Israelis since the beginning.
Although he clearly understood the gravity of the situation, he did not offer any concrete steps to alter it, as is becoming more common among senior US diplomats who visit Israel and the West Bank.
He spoke to journalists at Jerusalem’s US Embassy to reiterate his belief that the only viable path for peace, security, and prosperity for Israelis as well as Palestinians is a two-state solution.
Although he is correct, the exact same words were uttered 30 years ago by every US secretary-of-state.
Many observers believe that the situation is more dire now than it was in the past and that there are less chances of peace.
Maybe the announcement by senior members of his team that they will continue to work on relieving tensions is intended to provide temporary relief.
It will not be enough. Israel’s new right-wing coalition government tries to rule in the face massive weekly protests.
The West Bank Palestinians are becoming more desperate due to occupation, and militancy has been on the rise. The Palestinian leadership in Ramallah cannot provide the basic necessities for its people.
These are troubling times for the Holy Land. Those are worrying times in the Holy Land.
A Palestinian gunman shot seven people at a synagogue located in east Jerusalem on Friday.
The next morning , a 13-year old Palestinian boy, shot while injuring two Israelis.
“The Israeli government is responsible today for what is happening, due to its practices that undermine and violate the signed agreements,” Mr Abbas stated during Mr Blinken’s visit.
Netanyahu has increased the West Bank’s troops and promised to strengthen settlements, but has so far resisted more drastic measures.
Tuesday saw Mr. Blinken meet Yoav Gallant, Israeli Defence Minister. They discussed how to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and the current situation in the West Bank.
Since the 2014 US-sponsored talks ended in 2014, all hopes of reaching a two-state solution with a Palestinian state based in the West Bank have been lost.
Although the Biden administration stated it would reopen a consulate for Palestinians that was closed by Donald Trump, it has not yet said when or where.