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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority president during West Bank trip

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken introduced his frenetic Mideast diplomatic push on the Israel-Hamas struggle to the occupied West Bank on Sunday, assembly with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his newest bid to ease civilian struggling within the Gaza Strip and start to sketch out a post-conflict state of affairs for the territory.

Blinken traveled to Ramallah for his beforehand unannounced go to in an armored motorcade and below tight safety simply hours after Israeli warplanes struck a refugee camp within the Gaza Strip, killing at the least 40 folks and wounding dozens, well being officers mentioned. Despite the secrecy and the State Department refusing to substantiate the trip till after Blinken had bodily left the West Bank, protests erupted towards his go to and U.S. help for Israel as phrase of his arrival leaked.

Aside from pleasantries, neither man spoke as they greeted one another in entrance of cameras and the assembly ended with none public remark. It was not instantly clear if the dearth of phrases indicated the assembly had gone poorly.

Husam Zomlot, Palestinian ambassador to the U.Ok, informed “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the assembly was tense “because there are differences.” 

“Our president demanded an immediate ceasefire to the atrocious, murderous assault by Israel on our civilians, on our people,” Zomlot mentioned. “This is not a war against Hamas. It’s clear since it started, it’s a war against our people, not only in Gaza, by the way, but also in the West Bank.” 

Zomlot mentioned the U.S. has a chance to be a peacemaker and that the Palestinians and Israelis want “a grown up in the room and that is the U.S.” 

Blinken then made an unannounced go to to Cyprus, the place he was greeted by Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides and Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos, who he invited again into the airplane for a gathering. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, amid the continuing battle between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, on the Muqata in Ramallah within the Israeli-occupied West Bank, November 5, 2023.

JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS


He then traveled to Baghdad for one more shock go to, during which he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shiaa al-Sudani.  “The Secretary urged the Prime Minister to hold accountable those responsible for continuing attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller mentioned in an announcement. They additionally mentioned the necessity to stop the Israel-Hamas battle from spreading and the humanitarian state of affairs in Gaza, together with “the need to ensure that Palestinians are not forcibly displaced outside of Gaza,” Miller mentioned.

At a information convention in Baghdad, Blinken referred to as it a “good, productive, candid meeting.”

“I made very clear that the attacks, the threats, coming from militia that are aligned with Iran are totally unacceptable,” Blinken mentioned, including, “We’re not looking for conflict with Iran.”

A humanitarian pause within the combating in Gaza may “advance the prospect” of returning hostages to Israel and in addition assist Palestinians who’re determined for assist, Blinken mentioned, noting that “we have about 100 trucks a day going in. That’s good, but it’s grossly insufficient.”

In the assembly with Abbas, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller mentioned Blinken reaffirmed the U.S. dedication to the supply of life-saving humanitarian help and resumption of important providers in Gaza and made clear that Palestinians should not be forcibly displaced.

Blinken and Abbas mentioned efforts to revive calm and stability within the West Bank, together with the necessity to cease extremist violence towards Palestinians and maintain these accountable accountable, Miller mentioned, in reference to violence being dedicated by Israeli settlers.

The assembly with Abbas, whose Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority has not been a consider Gaza since Hamas took it over by power in 2007, got here at first of Blinken’s third day of an intense Middle East tour – his second because the struggle started with a shock Hamas assault on Israel on Oct. 7. Blinken had visited Israel and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday earlier than decamping to Jordan for conferences with senior Arab officers on Saturday.

At every cease, Blinken has provided agency U.S. help for Israel’s proper to defend itself but additionally confused that it should adhere to the legal guidelines of struggle, shield civilians and improve 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 so far flatly rejected.

U.S. officers imagine that Netanyahu might 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 demise toll has sparked rising worldwide anger, with tens of hundreds from Washington to Berlin taking to the streets over the weekend to demand a direct cease-fire.

The Arab overseas ministers that Blinken met with on Saturday in Amman – from Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates – issued the identical demand.

But Blinken mentioned the U.S. wouldn’t push for one.

“It is our view now that a cease-fire would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on Oct. 7,” he mentioned. Instead he mentioned that momentary humanitarian pauses in combating could be important to defending civilians, getting assist in and getting overseas nationals out “while still enabling Israel to achieve its objective, the defeat of Hamas.”

Arab officers mentioned it was far too quickly to debate one of Blinken’s principal agenda gadgets, Gaza’s postwar future. Stopping the killing and restoring regular humanitarian assist are quick that have to be addressed first, they mentioned.

“How can we even entertain what will happen next?” mentioned Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi. “We need to get our priorities straight.”

Arab states are resisting American solutions 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.

But U.S. officers imagine Arab backing, irrespective of how modest, will probably be important to efforts to ease the worsening situations in Gaza and lay the groundwork for what would exchange Hamas because the territory’s governing authority, if and when Israel succeeds in eradicating the group.

Still concepts on Gaza’s future governance are few and much between. Blinken and different U.S. officers are providing a obscure define that it’d embody a mixture of a revitalized Palestinian Authority alongside with worldwide organizations and doubtlessly a peacekeeping power. U.S. officers acknowledge these concepts have been met with a definite lack of enthusiasm.

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