Blinken says ‘all sides need to de-escalate’ in Middle East

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urges both Israel and the Palestinians to lower tensions and urges an immediate end to rocket fire by Hamas.

“All sides need to de-escalate, reduce tensions, take practical steps to calm things down,” Blinken says as he meets his Jordanian counterpart in Washington.

Blinken strongly condemns rocket fire by Hamas and backs Israel’s right to respond. The rocket attacks “need to stop immediately,” he says.

He also praises steps taken by Israel over the past day partly in response to concerns led by the United States, including rerouting a flashpoint parade meant to celebrate Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the press prior to a meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi at the State Department in Washington, DC, May 10, 2021 (SAUL LOEB / POOL / AFP)

Blinken also points to the postponement of a decision on the eviction of Palestinian families in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, an immediate trigger for the violence that has left hundreds injured in the holy city.

“But it’s imperative for all sides to take steps to de-escalate the situation,” Blinken says.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi says that Jerusalem is a “red line” for the kingdom, which has a peace treaty with Israel and maintains a custodial role in the Temple Mount compound, known to Muslims as Al-Haram al-Sharif.

“Our focus right now is on ensuring that the escalation stops, and for that to happen we believe that all illegal, provocative measures against the peoples of Sheikh Jarrah or in terms of violations into al-Haram must stop,” Safadi says.

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