Blinken criticizes Israel’s illegal settlement expansion during meeting with PA president
Mahmoud Abbas backtracked on claims the PA would stop security cooperation with Tel Aviv during a meeting with CIA director William Burns
By News Desk - February 01 2023

PA president Abbas and US FM Blinken meeting in Ramallah (Photo credit: Majdi Mohammed/Associated Press)

At the end of an eventful diplomatic tour of North Africa and West Asia, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the West Bank on 31 January to meet with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. 

In light of recent escalations in the West Bank, Blinken reiterated the need to end resurgent violence in Palestine, reiterating his country’s support for a “two-state solution.”

He went on to say that Washington opposes any actions taken by either side that make such a solution “more difficult,” including “settlement expansion, demolitions, and evictions, distractions to the historical status of holy sites.”

This rare criticism of Israeli settlements comes two days after a fierce retaliation campaign by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank.

Prior to his meeting with Blinken in Ramallah, Abbas told CIA Director William Burns on Sunday that he is not pushing for escalation with the occupation forces and is ready to “resume security coordination and even consider peace negotiations immediately.”

Following last week’s spike in violence, which left dozens of Palestinians and Israeli settlers dead, the PA claimed it would stop all security cooperation with Tel Aviv.

The start of this year has been particularly bloody for the Palestinian inhabitants of Gaza and the West Bank, as Israeli bullets have killed an estimated 35 Palestinians so far.

On the same day as his meeting with Blinken, Abbas also received the head of Jordanian intelligence, Ahmed Hosni, and the head of Egyptian intelligence services, Abbas Kamel.

Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that the two intelligence directors conveyed their countries’ “messages of support and solidarity” to Palestine and their concerns for regional stability.

Blinken’s visit to Ramallah was the final stop of his tour. On 29 January, Blinken traveled to Cairo to meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and students at the American University of Cairo.

The US official then proceeded to Jerusalem on 30 January, where he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss recent developments in Iran and Ukraine.

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