Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

RAMALLAH, West Financial institution — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken introduced his diplomatic push on the Israel-Hamas struggle to the occupied West Financial institution on Sunday, assembly with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a part of an intensifying Biden administration drive to scale back the struggling of Gaza’s civilians below Israeli bombardment and to begin to sketch out a post-conflict state of affairs for the territory.

Blinken traveled via the West Financial institution metropolis of Ramallah in an armored motorcade and below tight safety. The journey got here on the third day of an pressing new spherical of American diplomacy that’s searching for to restrict the destabilizing regional fallout from Israel’s struggle with Gaza’s ruling Hamas militant group.

The Biden administration, whereas remaining the strongest backer of Israel’s army response to Hamas’ assaults on Oct. 7, is more and more searching for to make use of its affect with Israel to attempt to mood the impact of Israel’s weeks of full siege and close to round the clock air, floor and sea assaults in Gaza, residence to 2.3 million civilians.

Blinken later flew to Baghdad for talks with Iraqi Prime Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as American forces within the area face a surge of assaults by Iranian-allied militias in Iraq and elsewhere. U.S. forces shot down one other one-way assault drone Sunday that was concentrating on American and coalition troops close to their base in neighboring Syria, a U.S. official stated.

Blinken’s assembly with Abbas within the West Financial institution got here solely hours after Israeli planes bombed a refugee camp in Gaza, killing at the least 40 individuals in accordance with well being officers in Gaza.

Regardless of the secrecy and the U.S. State Division’s refusal to substantiate Blinken’s West Financial institution journey till after he had left the Palestinian territory, Palestinians turned out to protest U.S. help for Israel’s struggle as phrase of his arrival unfold within the West Financial institution. Demonstrators held indicators exhibiting dripping blood and with messages that included, “Blinken blood is in your arms.”

Neither Blinken nor Abbas spoke as they greeted one another in entrance of cameras and their assembly ended with none public remark.

The Palestinian Authority administers semiautonomous areas of the Israeli-occupied West Financial institution. It has not been an element within the Gaza Strip since 2007, when Hamas seized management after successful in elections there a yr earlier.

A senior American official touring with Blinken burdened what the official stated was the U.S. dedication to urgent Israel to guard civilians in Gaza, enhance humanitarian assist provides and rein in and punish surging violence by extremist Jewish settlers in opposition to Palestinians within the West Financial institution.

At the very least 150 Palestinians have been killed within the West Financial institution because the begin of the struggle, primarily throughout violent protests and gun battles throughout arrest raids.

Blinken stated the U.S. envisions the Palestinian Authority as “enjoying a central position” in any post-Hamas administration in Gaza, in accordance with the senior U.S. official, who spoke to reporters on situation of anonymity to element the discussions.

Abbas, nonetheless, stated the Palestinian Authority would solely assume energy in Gaza as a part of a “complete political resolution” to the Israeli-Palestinian battle, in accordance with the Palestinians’ official WAFA information company.

Abbas condemned Israel’s bombardment of Gaza as a “genocidal struggle” and urged Blinken “to instantly cease them from committing such crimes,” the brand new company reported.

Blinken instructed Abbas the USA needed to see humanitarian help attending to civilians in Gaza and the resumption of important companies in Gaza, the State Division stated. Blinken additionally made clear that Palestinians should not be forcibly displaced, U.S. officers stated.

The assembly with Abbas comes on what’s Blinken’s second journey to the Center East since Hamas’s shock Oct. 7 assault in Israel, which killed greater than 1,400 individuals. Blinken visited Israel and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday earlier than assembly in Jordan with Arab ministers Saturday.

At every cease, Blinken has supplied agency U.S. help for Israel’s proper to defend itself but additionally burdened that it should adhere to the legal guidelines of struggle, shield civilians and enhance humanitarian assist provides to Gaza. To try this, in addition to to ease the circulate of foreigners fleeing Gaza, he has made the case that Israel ought to implement rolling humanitarian pauses to its airstrikes and floor operations, one thing that Netanyahu has up to now flatly rejected.

The Arab overseas ministers with whom Blinken met in Amman – from Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates – issued the identical demand. However Blinken stated the U.S. wouldn’t push for one.

U.S. officers consider that Netanyahu could soften his opposition if he could be satisfied that it’s in Israel’s strategic pursuits to ease the plight of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The hovering dying toll amongst Palestinians — greater than 9,700, in accordance with officers of Gaza’s Hamas-run well being ministry — has sparked rising worldwide anger, with tens of hundreds from Washington to Berlin taking to the streets over the weekend to demand an instantaneous cease-fire.

Arab states are resisting American recommendations that they play a bigger position in resolving disaster, expressing outrage on the civilian toll of the Israeli army operations however believing Gaza to be an issue largely of Israel’s personal making.

When Blinken arrived within the Iraqi capital, he slipped on a khaki flak jacket over his darkish go well with earlier than boarding a helicopter to fly from the airport to his first assembly on the U.S. Embassy.

The U.S. has deep issues that Iran and its proxies, together with a number of militia teams in Iraq, could make the most of the scenario in Gaza to additional destabilize the Center East. Already Iranian-backed militias have intensified rocket and different assaults on U.S. army services in Iraq and Syria, drawing at the least one retaliatory strike from American forces.

Sunday’s assault by drone in opposition to a U.S. website in Syria was at the least the thirty second on U.S. and coalition army services in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17. Thus far there have been at the least 17 assaults in Iraq and 15 in Syria. At the very least 21 service members have been injured by the assaults however all have returned to responsibility, the Pentagon stated.

The identical U.S. official who confirmed the U.S. shootdown of the drone stated the drone strike was similar to different current assaults on U.S. personnel at bases in Iraq and Syria and is believed at this level to be linked to Iranian-backed militia. The official was not approved to debate the matter publicly and spoke on situation of anonymity.

Because the Israeli-Hamas struggle erupted, U.S. officers have tried to discourage any want by Iran or teams it helps, together with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Yemen’s Houthis and Iraqi militias, to affix or exacerbate the disaster.

President Joe Biden has deployed two plane provider strike teams to the japanese Mediterranean and the Bahrain-based U.S. fifth Fleet has been instructed to be on the alert.


Related Press writers Tara Copp and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.

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