US top diplomat Blinken meets Abbas, discusses Palestinian statehood

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, where the two leaders discussed post-war plans for Gaza, including steps towards the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The visit on Wednesday came as part of the US top diplomat’s fourth trip to the region since Israel’s war in Gaza started on October 7. After the meeting, Blinken made a surprise trip to Bahrain, while Abbas met neighbouring country leaders in Jordan.

Blinken’s arrival in Ramallah was met by a group of protesters who held up signs that read “Stop the genocide”, “Free Palestine” and “Blinken out”. Some scuffled with Palestinian security forces in riot gear.

Blinken discussed efforts to “minimise civilian harm” in Gaza and increase the delivery of aid inside the besieged enclave, according to a statement from the US Department of State, points he had made a day earlier during a visit to Israel.

He also expressed support for a Palestinian state and encouraged “administrative reforms” of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the State Department added. The PA said Abbas told Blinken that no Palestinians should be displaced from Gaza or the West Bank.

Hamas, meanwhile, rejected Blinken’s visit to the region. “The aim of the visit was to support the security of the occupation. There are no differences between Israel and the Americans,” Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told the Reuters news agency.

In a statement, Hamas also said the US official’s “attempts to justify the genocide committed by the Israeli occupation army against Palestinian civilians … are miserable attempts to wash the hands of the criminal occupation of the blood of children, women and the elderly of Gaza”.

In three months of war, more than 23,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in the Israeli bombardment. The war was launched after fighters from Hamas, the group that governs Gaza, attacked communities in southern Israel killing approximately 1,200 people there.

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