Antony Blinken urges Israel and Palestine to ease tensions following spike in violence


S Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has urged Israel and the Palestinians to ease tensions following a recent spike in violence.

Speaking on a visit to Jerusalem, Mr Blinken called on both sides to “take urgent steps to restore calm” and “de-escalate”.

His visit follows one of the deadliest periods of fighting in years in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. An Israeli military raid on Thursday killed 10 Palestinians in the flashpoint West Bank town of Jenin, while a Palestinian gunmen killed seven people outside a synagogue in an east Jerusalem settlement on Friday.

The next morning, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy shot and wounded two Israelis elsewhere in east Jerusalem.

Mr Blinken said: “We want to make sure that there’s an environment in which we can, I hope at some point, create conditions where we can start to restore a sense of security for Israelis and Palestinians alike, which of course is sorely lacking.”

He said that last Friday’s rampage was “more than an attack on individuals… it was an attack on the act of practising one’s faith”.

Mr Blinked added: “We condemn all those who celebrate these and any other acts of terrorism that take innocent lives, no matter who the victim is or what they believe. Calls for vengeance against more innocent victims are not the answer.”

The US Secretary of State was due to see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Palestinian officials said Israeli settlers had set fire on Monday to two cars near the northern city of Nablus and thrown stones at a house near Ramallah.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, Palestinian officials said Israeli troops killed a 26-year-old man at a checkpoint. The army said troops opened fire on the man’s car after he rammed into one of them and tried to flee an inspection.

Mr Blinken restated Washington’s belief that a two-state solution remains the only way to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“As I said to the prime minister, anything that would move us away from that vision is, in our judgment, detrimental to Israel’s longterm security and longterm identity as a Jewish and democratic state,” he said.

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