Blinken's Meeting with Palestinian Authority President Abbas in West Bank Amid Escalating Settler Violence

In a significant diplomatic move, Secretary of State Antony Blinken engaged in a crucial meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on a Sunday overshadowed by the escalating settler violence in the West Bank, stemming from the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

Secretary Blinken's visit to Ramallah marked his first visit to the region since the aforementioned attack. This diplomatic initiative coincides with the United States' ongoing efforts to address the complex Israel-Hamas conflict and the resulting humanitarian crisis. It follows Secretary Blinken's recent visits to Israel and Jordan.

Of note, this is not the first time Abbas and Blinken have met; they previously held discussions during Blinken's earlier trip to the region several weeks ago, right after the attack.

A statement from the State Department shed light on the meeting's focus, emphasizing the importance of restoring calm and stability in the West Bank. The leaders explored strategies to combat extremist violence against Palestinians and ensure accountability for those responsible.

Secretary Blinken reemphasized the United States' unwavering commitment to providing essential humanitarian aid and reinstating vital services in Gaza. Furthermore, he made a resounding declaration against the forced displacement of Palestinians, underlining the importance of safeguarding their rights.

The U.S. diplomat also expressed the nation's dedication to actively pursuing the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to establish a Palestinian state.

A significant development occurred at a summit in Amman, where Secretary Blinken joined foreign ministers from Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). During this meeting, concerns were voiced about the escalating extremist violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, which has intensified since the conflict.

The gravity of the situation becomes evident when considering that, since October 7, at least 150 Palestinians have lost their lives in the West Bank, as reported by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. This number nearly approaches the total Palestinian casualties in the West Bank for the entirety of 2022.

Secretary Blinken, who held discussions with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv the preceding Friday, noted the Israeli government's commitment to addressing extremist violence in the West Bank. He underscored their dedication to condemning such actions and taking necessary measures against those involved.

Blinken has repeatedly stressed the importance of planning for the future, especially regarding the "day of" and the "day after." He has suggested that the Palestinian Authority could play a significant role in shaping Gaza's future, particularly if Hamas is no longer a prominent force.

He articulated this perspective during a congressional hearing last week, highlighting the potential for an effective and revitalized Palestinian Authority to govern and take on security responsibilities for Gaza. However, the path to achieving this goal may require incremental steps and temporary arrangements involving regional and international stakeholders to ensure security and governance.

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