Blinken urges calm, reaffirms ‘ironclad’ US support for Israel

In his first visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories since Netanyahu’s far-right government took office late last year, the top American diplomat also heaped praise on the US-Israel alliance.

“It’s important that the government and people of Israel know America’s commitment to their security remains ironclad,” Blinken said. “That commitment is backed up by nearly 75 years of United States support. America’s commitment has never wavered; it never will.”

His trip comes amid an eruption of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, with the Israeli military conducting near-daily, deadly raids in the occupied West Bank.

Last week, Israeli forces killed 10 Palestinians in the West Bank, including nine in the Jenin refugee camp. A day later, a Palestinian gunman fatally shot seven Israelis in a settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.

On Monday, Blinken paid tribute to the Israeli victims without mentioning Palestinians killed by Israel.

Despite the mounting tensions, Blinken’s remarks appeared to place emphasis on regional normalisation and countering Iran, over concerns about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Blinken restated the US’s verbal support for the two-state solution, but he did not explicitly criticise Israel’s policies of expanding illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem — territories that Palestinians seek as home to their future state.

“Anything that moves us away from that [two-state] vision is — in our judgement — detrimental to Israel’s long-term security and its long-term identity as a Jewish and democratic state,” Blinken said. “That’s why we’re urging all sides now to take urgent steps to restore calm, to de-escalate.”

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