Meeting Abbas, Blinken mourns ‘innocent Palestinian civilians’ killed over past year

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shake hands following their meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 31, 2023. (Ronaldo Schemidt/Pool/AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shake hands following their meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 31, 2023. (Ronaldo Schemidt/Pool/AFP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expresses his condolences to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the “innocent Palestinian civilians” killed over the past year in the West Bank.

Israel says most of the over 30 Palestinians killed since the beginning of the year were participating in clashes with the IDF, though not all of them. A 60-year-old woman was shot dead during a military raid in Jenin last Thursday during which eight others were killed, most of them terror group members. Also last week, a father was shot dead by troops at a checkpoint in front of his son in an altercation that the army afterward said should not have ended in his death. More than 170 Palestinians were killed in 2022 — most of them while carrying out attacks on soldiers and civilians, though also uninvolved civilians — making it the deadliest year since the UN began tracking in 2005.

Blinken offers his condolences while meeting with Abbas in Ramallah at the tail end of his three-day trip to Egypt, Israel and the West Bank.

Abbas tells Blinken that Israel is responsible for the recent uptick in violence — which also included a pair of shooting attacks by Palestinian terrorists in Jerusalem over the weekend, one of which saw seven people killed — highlighting Israeli “policies that undermine a two-state solution.”

He also laments a lack of effort in the international community to hold the Israeli government accountable, which he charges has allowed continued settlement expansion, land expropriation, settler violence, IDF raids into Palestinian towns, home demolitions and evictions, according to the PA’s official Wafa mouthpiece.

Blinken, for his part, tells Abbas in front of reporters that the US will continue to oppose such steps by Israel in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Abbas also raises the Palestinian effort to secure full-member status at the United Nations — an initiative that the US opposes and has indicated to PA officials they would block, according to officials in Washington and Ramallah. Washington has a veto in the Security Council, whose approval is needed for the Palestinians to receive elevated status at the UN.

“We have taken a number of decisions, which we have begun to implement in order to protect the interests of our people after having exhausted all other options,” Abbas says, ostensibly referring to his office’s announcement last week that it was severing security coordination with Israel.

The move was denounced by the US, but Abbas privately assured visiting CIA director Bill Burns earlier this week that the cooperation has only been partially cut and can be restored once tensions subside, an official familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel on Monday.

Abbas reiterates that he remains opposed to violence and terrorism and committed to a two-state solution.

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