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Antony Blinken to meet Palestinian leaders amid round of deadly attacks | Palestinian territories

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is scheduled to meet with Palestinian leaders for his final stop on his tour of the Middle East, which comes at a critical time as Israel and Palestine are recovering from a series of devastating attacks that threaten an explosion of violence.

After meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday, Blinken traveled to the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Prime Minister Mohammad Shtaya.

The Israeli operation in the Jenin refugee camp last week, one of the deadliest raids in the West Bank in decades, killed 10 Palestinians, mostly militants, but also two civilians, including a 61-year-old woman. The next day, a Palestinian gunman killed seven Israelis outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem in what was the worst attack in recent memory.

In total, almost two dozen people have been killed in the last week as tensions have escalated to retaliatory attacks, including shootings at Israelis and Palestinians.

Blinken called for “urgent steps to restore calm” but acknowledged that it would be difficult. “We want to make sure that there is an environment in which we can, I hope at some point, create the conditions in which we can begin to restore a sense of security for both Israelis and Palestinians, which is, of course, sorely lacking.” , – he said. after meeting with Netanyahu.

Expectations that Washington’s top envoy will be able to steer the region off the path to more bloodshed are close to zero, and Blinken reiterates the US government’s longtime aspirations for a “two-state solution” in which the Palestinians get their own country – an idea that is openly rejected . far-right figures in the newly established Israeli government.

Instead, Blinken’s visit is seen as an attempt to contain the issue as part of Joe Biden’s efforts to ensure that the Israeli-Palestinian crisis does not overshadow broader US goals, in particular Russia’s defeat in Ukraine.

In Ramallah, Blinken is expected to urge Abbas to continue working with Israel on security issues that were cut as a display of anger after the Jenin raid.

Abbas, however, has limited power and remains deeply unpopular with Palestinians, who accuse him of acting as a subcontractor to Israel in its occupation. A new generation of disillusioned and armed Palestinian militias is rising in power, disconnected from their increasingly isolated leaders.

In Israel, Netanyahu’s government responded to the killings by proposing new measures that would further punish Palestinians, including making it easier to demolish the family homes of the perpetrators, a practice widely condemned as collective punishment. The government also wants to make it easier for Israeli citizens to carry weapons.

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