US top diplomat Blinken meets Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas

The U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, visited Ramallah today to meet with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and discuss the aftermath of the Gaza war and the prospects of a Palestinian state.

Today the U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, held a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, to talk about the recent war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas and how the authority could help with the post-conflict situation.

Blinken arrived in Ramallah, the capital of the authority in the West Bank under Israeli occupation, from Tel Aviv in Israel. He greeted Abbas outside the authority’s headquarters and then joined him for a discussion with their staff.

The U.S. government, led by President Biden, has expressed its desire to see the Palestinian Authority play a role in governing both the West Bank and Gaza. Hamas has controlled Gaza since it defeated Fatah, the faction that leads the authority in the West Bank, in a bloody election in 2006.

President Biden has also stated that Israel should enable the creation of a Palestinian state, saying that a political solution is the only way to end the long-standing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Blinken reaffirmed that position in a press conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday after meeting with Israeli officials. He also mentioned that Saudi Arabia — whose leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he met with on Monday — was still open to the idea of normalizing diplomatic relations with Israel, but only if Israel took concrete steps toward the recognition of a sovereign and independent Palestine.

According to Wafa, the official news agency of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas told Blinken in their meeting that the Palestinians rejected what he called Israeli attempts to separate Gaza from the West Bank. He said that “the Gaza Strip is an integral part of the state of Palestine”, as quoted by the agency.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his right-wing coalition have opposed the idea of a Palestinian state, and Netanyahu once said that Israel should support a strong Hamas in Gaza to weaken the Palestinian Authority and the concept of a united Palestine. He has also dismissed any significant role for the authority in Gaza.

Blinken planned to fly to Bahrain after meeting with Abbas for more talks on the war. The Bahrain visit was a late addition to his multi-day diplomatic tour across the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East that started last Friday. Blinken intends to meet with the Egyptian president, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in Cairo later in the trip.

El-Sisi and Abbas are expected to travel to Aqaba, Jordan, later on Wednesday for an emergency leadership summit convened by King Abdullah II.

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