The United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced, high-security visit to the Israeli-occupied West Bank on a Sunday.
During his visit, he met with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah.
This visit took place amidst growing global concern over escalating violence in the occupied territory, coinciding with the Israel-Hamas conflict that began on October 7.
The war began after Hamas militants launched an attack on southern Israel, resulting in the loss of 1,400 lives, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials.
Since the outbreak of the conflict, which has witnessed nearly 9,500 casualties in Israel’s retaliatory land, air, and sea assault on Gaza, as reported by the Hamas-run health ministry, Blinken has made three trips to Israel and visited several other Arab nations.
This particular visit to the West Bank was kept secret for security reasons and followed Blinken’s visits to Jordan and Israel the previous Friday.
Following a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Blinken “expressed concern regarding the increasing violence in the West Bank and emphasised the US commitment to working with partners towards a durable and sustainable peace in the region,” according to a statement.
Since the start of the conflict, more than 150 Palestinians have lost their lives in clashes with Israeli soldiers and attacks by Israeli settlers, as reported by the Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah. Blinken’s meeting with Mahmud Abbas, who leads the secularist Fatah party and is a rival to Hamas, occurred at a time when the United States has shown significant political and military support for Israel.
The United States continues to advocate for a two-state solution as the preferred path to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Blinken has recently expressed that the Palestinian Authority should take control of the Gaza Strip, which is currently governed by Hamas.
Numerous countries, including the United States, European nations, and Arab states, along with the United Nations, have expressed deep concern about the escalating tensions in the West Bank.
The Israeli army has reported that its forces are actively engaged against Hamas, particularly in areas like Jenin and Nablus in the northern part of the territory that has been occupied since 1967.
During his tour of the Middle East, Blinken has been advocating for “humanitarian pauses” to protect civilians and facilitate aid deliveries in the densely populated Gaza Strip, which has been under bombardment. He is scheduled to travel to Ankara, Turkey, on Sunday evening.