Middle EastWorld

Blinken urges calm as Mideast conflict flares

JERUSALEM: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Monday for “urgent steps” to calm spiraling violence in the Zionist-Palestinian conflict, after high-level talks in Jerusalem. Washington’s top diplomat travelled to Jerusalem on the second leg of his Middle East tour, after meeting Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and foreign minister in Cairo.

The Zionist entity is reeling from an attack Friday that killed seven civilians outside a synagogue in annexed east Jerusalem, a day after the deadliest army raid in years in the occupied West Bank claimed 10 Palestinian lives. Following talks with Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blinken urged “all sides now to take urgent steps to restore calm, to deescalate”. “We want to make sure that there’s an environment in which we can, I hope, at some point, create the conditions where we can start to restore a sense of security for (Zionists) and Palestinians alike,” he said.

In the latest bloodshed, Zionist troops Monday killed a Palestinian driver in the West Bank, officials on both sides said. Since the start of the year, the conflict has claimed the lives of 35 Palestinian adults and children. The United States has historically taken a lead on Middle East diplomacy, and Egypt, which has relations with the Zionist entity, has long served as a mediator in the conflict.

Blinken envoy will also travel to Ramallah in the West Bank for talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas met with CIA chief William Burns in Ramallah late Sunday to discuss the “dangerous developments”, said the official Palestinian news agency Wafa. The US embassy declined to comment. Blinken’s long-planned visit has taken on a new urgency amid the spiraling violence.

The fatal east Jerusalem shooting was preceded by the Zionist forces’ deadliest operation in the West Bank in years. Ten people were killed Thursday in the densely populated Jenin refugee camp. The military later hit sites in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave. The latest bloodshed has heightened international concern, with Pope Francis on Sunday deploring the “death spiral”. French President Emmanuel Macron urged all parties to avoid feeding a “spiral of violence” and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for “maximum responsibility” on all sides.

Blinken on Monday met Sisi and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. Blinken commended Sisi for “Egypt’s important role in promoting stability in the region” and “discussed ongoing efforts to deescalate tensions between (Zionists) and Palestinians,” said the State Department. The diplomats and intelligence services of Egypt – a major recipient of US military aid – are regularly called upon to intercede between Zionists and Palestinians.

Blinken’s visit is part of the Biden administration’s efforts to engage quickly with Netanyahu, who had tense relations with the previous Democratic president Barack Obama. While there, Blinken reiterated US support for a Palestinian state, a prospect few expect to advance under the new Zionist government. In Jerusalem, Blinken said he discussed with Netanyahu the preservation of the status quo at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem. – AFP

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