U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday warned Israeli and Palestinian leaders of the “urgent” need to restore calm in Judea and Samaria, amid a surge in Palestinian attacks and Israeli counter-terrorism operations in the territory.
In a call with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, the top American diplomat “underscored his deep concern over the situation … including heightened tensions, violence, and loss of both Palestinian and Israeli lives, and emphasized the need for all parties to de-escalate the situation urgently,” according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
Price said that Blinken also discussed with Abbas “joint efforts to improve the quality of life for the Palestinian people and enhance their security and freedom,” and “further reaffirmed [Washington’s] commitment to a two-state solution.”
According to the official P.A. news agency WAFA, Abbas updated Blinken on “[Israeli] blockades, extrajudicial killings, home demolitions and settlement construction, in addition to settlers’ violence and violations carried out against the ‘occupied’ city of Jerusalem and its Muslim and Christian holy sites.”
The call came after Blinken on Thursday conveyed the same warning during a phone conversation with outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, according to a separate statement.
Blinken also commended Israel for its “free and fair” elections, thanked Lapid for his partnership, and “reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship.”
Meanwhile, the 13-year-old Israeli girl who was struck in the head by gunfire on Thursday in the town of Kiryat Arba has regained consciousness and is breathing on her own, according to media reports.
Also on Thursday, three Israeli police officers were wounded in a terrorist attack in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.
The same day, Israeli security forces tracked down and killed Farouk Salama, 28, leader of the Jenin branch of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
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