Middle East

Blinken meets Palestinian Authority President Abbas in West Bank amid growing settler violence

By Jennifer Hansler, CNN

Tel Aviv CNN  — 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah Sunday amid escalating settler violence in the West Bank following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

The top US diplomat’s visit to Ramallah – his first since that attack – comes as the United States grapples with the Israel-Hamas war and resulting humanitarian catastrophe. It comes on the heels of Blinken stops in Israel and Jordan.

Abbas and Blinken met twice in Jordan during the latter’s trip to the region several weeks ago, following the attack.

According to a State Department readout of the roughly one hour meeting, Blinken and Abbas “discussed efforts to restore calm and stability in the West Bank, including the need to stop extremist violence against Palestinians and hold those accountable responsible.”

Blinken “reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance and resumption of essential services in Gaza and made clear that Palestinians must not be forcibly displaced,” spokesperson Matt Miller said in the written readout.

The top US diplomat “expressed the commitment of the United States to working toward the realization of the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Miller said.

A view of road blocks over a destroyed street at the Jenin camp in the West Bank on November 4, 2023, as violence surges in the occupied territory amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Aris MESSINIS / AFP) (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

At a summit Saturday in Amman with the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, as well as the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Blinken said they are  “all deeply concerned about escalating extremist violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank,” calling it “a serious problem that’s only worsened since the conflict.”

At least 150 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since October 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health – a number nearing the total number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank in all of 2022.

Blinken, who met with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv Friday, said he heard “a clear commitment from the government to deal with extremist violence in the West Bank, to condemn it, to take action to prevent it, to take action against those who perpetrate it.”

“This is important, and we will be looking closely to ensure that our friends make good on that commitment,” he said.

Blinken has spoken about the need to focus on “the day of” and the “day after,” and has suggested the Palestinian Authority could play a role in Gaza’s future if Hamas is eliminated.

“At some point, what would make the most sense would be for an effective and revitalized Palestinian Authority to have governance and ultimately security responsibility for Gaza,” he said at a congressional hearing last week.

“Whether you can get there in one step is a big question that we have to look at. And if you can’t, then there are other temporary arrangements that may involve a number of other countries in the region. It may involve international agencies that would help provide for both security and governance,” he said.

CNN’s Abeer Salman contributed to this report.

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