update deskIsrael at War

Blinken makes surprise trip to Ramallah to meet Abbas

Abbas called for an immediate ceasefire and for additional aid to be allowed into Gaza.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, on Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, on Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced visit to Ramallah on Sunday to meet with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas called on Blinken to press for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and for additional aid to be allowed into the Gaza Strip, according to P.A. spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.

For his part, Blinken “expressed the commitment of the United States to working towards the realization of the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for the establishment of a Palestinian state,” according to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

The two leaders also discussed ensuring that Gazans are not “forcibly displaced” and “efforts to restore calm and stability in the West Bank, including the need to stop extremist violence against Palestinians and hold those accountable responsible,” according to Miller.

Blinken told Abbas that the P.A. should play a “central role” in the Gaza Strip’s future if and when Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas is achieved, an anonymous senior State Department official told Reuters.

“The future of Gaza was not the focus of the meeting but the Palestinian Authority seemed willing to play a role,” added the report.

Abbas responded that Ramallah is willing to retake control over the Gaza Strip “within the framework of a comprehensive political solution that includes all of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip,” per the P.A.’s official Wafa news agency.

A Likud parliamentarian this weekend slammed what he said was Washington’s plan to hand over control of the Gaza Strip to the P.A. after Israel’s military operation to destroy Hamas.

“While Blinken vows that he will do everything to prevent a recurrence of the events of Oct. 7, he pushes for giving control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, whose members, exactly like Hamas, advocate for the destruction of Israel and applaud Hamas’s murderous, Nazi-like massacre of Jews, seeking to emulate them,” said MK Amit Halevy.

The Biden administration was “slapping Israel in the face” by pressing this position, he added.

Blinken had previously suggested that an “effective and revitalized Palestinian Authority” should ultimately govern Gaza.

Earlier this month, an Israeli NGO released a video compilation of senior Palestinian Authority officials expressing support for Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre in southern Israel.

In addition, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a U.S.-designated terror group affiliated with Abbas’s Fatah faction, has claimed that its “fighters” joined Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 and carried out attacks in Israel.

“The Al-Aqsa [Martyrs] Brigades … carried out several operations [terror attacks] behind enemy lines as part of the ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’ [Hamas’s name for the Oct. 7 massacre] battle, which constituted a crossroads in the history of our struggle with the occupier, and praise Allah, we killed and took captive occupation soldiers,” the terrorist group’s spokesman said on Oct. 9.

In propaganda videos distributed on social media, the Brigades claimed to have taken at least one “Zionist” hostage. The footage appears to show a blood-soaked civilian being taken to Gaza by an armed terrorist wearing a Fatah headband.

On Saturday, Blinken met in Amman with King Abdullah II to discuss the war between Israel and Hamas.

During the meeting, Blinken “underscored our shared commitment to the protection of civilians and to facilitating the increased, sustained delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance, the resumption of essential services, and ensuring that Palestinians are not forcibly displaced outside of Gaza,” according to the U.S. State Department.

“[Blinken] also expressed concern regarding the increasing violence in the West Bank and emphasized the U.S. commitment to working with partners towards a durable and sustainable peace in the region, to include the establishment of a Palestinian state, a shared priority of both the United States and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” added the statement.

After meeting with Blinken, the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan called on Saturday for an immediate ceasefire and said it was too early to talk about the future of Gaza.

Blinken argued that a ceasefire would only allow Hamas to regroup.

The top American diplomat arrived in Israel on Friday for his third visit since the start of the war with Hamas.

Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other members of the War Cabinet including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and ministers-without-portfolio Benny Gantz and Gadi Eizenkot.

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