Nine Palestinians, including an elderly woman, were reportedly killed in an attack by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin on Thursday (Jan. 26). The United States urged both Israel and Palestine to de-escalate the situation.
A senior U.S. State Department official for the Middle East said the U.S. was concerned and called the toll “regrettable.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to visit the region in a few days.
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf also said the PA’s subsequent announcement to suspend security coordination with Israel was not the right decision now.
“We are in very close contact with senior Palestinian Authority (PA) officials. Obviously, we don’t think this is the right step to take at this time,” Liver told reporters during a telephone briefing on Thursday. “We believe that it is very important for all parties to maintain or deepen security coordination, rather than suspend security coordination.”
Liver said the United States would hold talks with Palestinian and Israeli officials during Blinken’s visit to Egypt, Israel and the West Bank in the coming days. Blinken will travel to the region Jan. 29-31.
The State Department said on Thursday that Blinken would consult with partners on “Russian aggression in Ukraine, Iran, Israeli-Palestinian relations and maintaining a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as protecting human rights and democratic values.”
Israel has provided medical and humanitarian aid to Ukraine but avoided sending deadly military equipment to Kyiv. Moscow may be displeased if Israel provides military assistance to Ukraine. In view of Russia’s involvement in the affairs of Syria in the Middle East country, it will damage Israel’s security interests in neighboring Syria.
The United States continues to seek Israeli support for Ukraine while avoiding criticism of Israel’s posture in the Russia-Ukraine war.
Blinken’s trip to the Middle East follows White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan’s Jan. 18-20 meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, which the White House said at the time reaffirmed Washington’s “commitment to Strong commitment to Israel’s security” in response to the ongoing threat posed by Iran.
U.S. officials have accused Iran of supplying Russia with drones for Moscow to use in Ukraine, calling such military assistance “seriously destabilizing.”
Iran has acknowledged supplying the drones to Russia, but insists the drone deliveries took place before Moscow launched a war on Ukraine.
During his visit, Blinken will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and other senior officials in Jerusalem. In the West Bank, Blinken will meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior Palestinian Authority officials.
“The secretary will stress to Israeli and Palestinian leaders the urgent need for all parties to take steps to de-escalate tensions in order to end the cycle of violence that has claimed too many innocent lives,” a State Department statement said. The importance of preserving the historical status quo of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in Jerusalem, both in words and in deeds.
Members of the UN Security Council gathered in early January after an ultra-nationalist Israeli cabinet minister visited the Al-Aqsa mosque compound to reiterate the need to preserve the historic status quo at the holy site in Jerusalem.
In Cairo, the Secretary of State will meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to advance the U.S.-Egypt strategic partnership, Discuss joint support for the Libyan elections, as well as the ongoing Sudan-led political process.