Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas outlined a series of demands for Israeli concessions during a meeting on Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Ramallah.
Abbas called on Washington to pressure Israel to forgo construction plans in Judea and Samaria, curb IDF counter-terrorism operations in Palestinian-controlled areas and cancel punitive measures imposed on the P.A. in response to its ongoing “political and legal war” against the Jewish state.
Israel’s Security Cabinet approved the measures earlier this month after the U.N. General Assembly, at the urging of the P.A., passed a resolution calling on the International Court of Justice to “render urgently an advisory opinion” on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory.”
“We affirm that the Israeli government is responsible for what is happening today, because of its practices that undermine the two-state solution and violate the signed agreements, and because of the lack of international efforts to dismantle the occupation [and] end the settlement regime, and the failure to recognize the Palestinian state and its full membership in the United Nations,” said Abbas.
“The continued opposition to the efforts of the Palestinian people to defend their existence and their legitimate rights in international forums and courts, and to provide international protection for our people, is a policy that encourages the Israeli occupier to commit more crimes and violates international law,” he added.
For his part, Blinken suggested that the “horizon of hope” for the Palestinians was shrinking and stressed the need for a two-state solution to end the conflict with Israel. He also emphasized the need for political reforms in the P.A.—which Abbas has led since the last presidential election was held in 2005—and called for the strengthening the U.S. relationship with the Palestinian people and its leadership.
Blinken again made clear Washington’s desire for Israelis and Palestinians to “urgently” de-escalate tensions “in order to put an end to the cycle of violence that has claimed too many innocent lives.” Finally, he discussed the importance of upholding the religious status quo that guides interfaith relations and actions at holy sites in Jerusalem.
The meeting came after Abbas reportedly told CIA Director William Burns on Sunday that security cooperation with Israel will be restored.
The P.A. chief announced on Jan. 26 that Ramallah would cease security cooperation following an IDF raid in Jenin in which nine people were killed during fierce clashes with Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists.
In his meeting with Burns, Abbas reportedly relayed a four-part message: 1) Intelligence cooperation with Israel continues; 2) The P.A. will continue to work to prevent acts of terror; 3) Security cooperation with Israel will be renewed to calm tensions; and 4) that he cannot condemn the recent attacks in Jerusalem as doing so would be “political suicide.”
On Saturday, a Palestinian terrorist shot an Israeli father and son near the entrance to the City of David National Park in Jerusalem, a day after a shooting rampage at a synagogue left seven people dead and several wounded elsewhere in the Israeli capital.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Blinken on Monday, saying that the U.S.-Israel relationship was one of modern history’s great alliances.
“We share common interests, which are growing by the day,” Netanyahu said. “We share common values; two strong democracies which will remain, I assure you, two strong democracies.” He called President Joe Biden, whom he has known for 40 years, “a true friend of Israel, a true champion of this alliance.”
Blinken called the meeting with Netanyahu “a very productive, very candid, and I think important discussion that covered a lot of issues.” He added that he had expressed his condolences to Netanyahu for Friday’s terrorist shooting.
“In the context of this attack and escalating violence, it is important that the government and people of Israel know that America’s commitment to their security remains ironclad,” said Blinken.