US top envoy Blinken in Israel and the West Bank to ‘solidify’ the ceasefire

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, days after an Egypt-brokered truce halted the struggle between the Jewish state and the Islamic Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip.

Blinken, who previously said his trip would be to support “attempts to establish a ceasefire”, would meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, although he would not meet Hamas. .

He will then travel on to neighboring Egypt and Jordan.

US President Joe Biden said Blinken would “meet with Israeli leaders about our rock-solid commitment to Israel’s security,” as well as attempt to rebuild ties with the Palestinians.

Blinken on Sunday reaffirmed US support for a two-state solution as the only way to give Israelis and Palestinians hope that they can live “with equal measures of security, peace and dignity.”

His comments on “equal measures” for Israelis and Palestinians seemed to change the tone of Donald Trump’s administration, which cut aid to the Palestinian Authority and unveiled a Middle East peace plan with strong Israeli backing but no Palestinian support. .

Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire on Gaza have killed 253 Palestinians, including 66 children, and injured more than 1,900 people in 11 days of conflict as of May 10, Gaza’s health ministry said.

Rocket and other fire from Gaza claimed 12 lives in Israel, including a child and an Arab-Israeli teenager, an Israeli soldier, an Indian and two Thais, medics say. About 357 people in Israel have been injured.

Mass arrests

Blinken’s visit comes as the ceasefire continues, but tensions are simmering in Israel and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories.

Israeli police said an attacker stabbed two young Israeli men in Jerusalem on Monday before police shot him. The army said one of the injured was a soldier.

Palestinian news agency WAFA identified the victim as a 17-year-old Palestinian high school student from annexed East Jerusalem.

On the night from Sunday to Monday, Israeli forces rounded up 43 Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Palestinian Prisoners Club said.

Israeli police, operating in East Jerusalem, said late on Sunday that they had arrested 1,550 suspects and charged 150 suspects over the past two weeks for “violent events.”

Peace talks have stalled since 2014, including on the status of East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The latest military escalation began after bloody clashes in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, also revered by Jews as the Temple Mount.

By the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Israeli forces had moved in with Palestinian believers.

They had also tried to quell protests against the threat of expulsion of Palestinian families from homes in Sheikh Jarrah’s East Jerusalem neighborhood to make way for Jewish settlers.

(AFP)

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