Blinken tells Abbas US backs 'tangible steps' for Palestinian state

AFP , Wednesday 10 Jan 2024

US top diplomat Antony Blinken told Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday that Washington supports "tangible steps" towards the creation of a Palestinian state.

 Antony Blinken and Mahmud Abbas
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, during his week-long trip aimed at calming tensions across the Middle East, in the Muqata a, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. AFP


Blinken reiterated Washington's longstanding position that a Palestinian state must stand alongside Israel, "with both living in peace and security", State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

Palestinian statehood was anticipated following the Oslo Accords of the 1990s but talks have been moribund for years.

The United States' top diplomat was on his fourth crisis visit to the Middle East since the war in the Gaza Strip began, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

The Israeli government has shown no interest in reviving negotiations.

Abbas described the Gaza Strip as "an integral part of the Palestinian state" according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

"It is not possible to accept or deal with the plans of the occupation authorities to separate it, or cut off any part of it," the Palestinian leader told Blinken.

Discussions have been underway for weeks over post-war governance of Gaza, though Israel has warned the fighting is likely to continue for months.

The Palestinian president also raised "efforts made to stop the Israeli aggression against Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank," Wafa reported.

Blinken referred to "increased volatility" in the West Bank, where hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in raids by the Israeli army or attacks by terrorist Israeli settlers in recent months.

As part of efforts to stabilise the territory, Blinken called on Israel to hand over revenues owed to the Palestinians in full.

Blinken "underscored the United States' position that all Palestinian tax revenues collected by Israel should be consistently conveyed to the Palestinian Authority in accordance with prior agreements," Miller said.

Israel has for years withheld part of the funds, over issues including payments to Palestinian prisoners.

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