Blinken meets Abbas in Ramallah, says US opposes Israeli settlement expansion

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday.

Blinken’s visit to Ramallah was the last leg in the top diplomat’s regional tour that also included Israel and Egypt.

During the meeting, Blinken said Washington opposes any measure that makes achieving the two-state solution difficult, including settlement expansions and home demolition.

"We believe it's important to take steps to de-escalate, stop violence, to reduce tensions - and to try as well to create the foundation for more positive actions going forward," he added.

"What we are seeing now for Palestinians is a shrinking horizon of hope, not an expanding one. And that, too, we believe needs to change," Blinken said.

During the meeting, the chief US diplomat announced that Washington will provide $50 million for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

Abbas, for his part, accused Israel of undermining the two-state solution and blamed the international community for failing to dismantle the Israeli occupation and end its settlement regime.

"We welcome you, and 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, end the settlement regime, and the failure to recognize the Palestinian state and its full membership in the United Nations," he said.

Blinken was accompanied by a host of American officials during the visit, including George Noll, head of the Palestinian Affairs Unit at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Barbara Leaf, Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs, Hady Amr, Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs, and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Ahead of Blinken's arrival, the Palestinian news agency Wafa published images of Abbas while meeting with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and Jordanian intelligence director, Ahmad Hatuqai.

The broadcaster, however, did not provide any details about the content of Abbas’ meeting with the intelligence officials.

On Monday, Blinken called on Israel and the Palestinian side “to take steps to calm tensions rather than inflame them.”

His visit comes amid rising violence in the Palestinian territories following an Israeli military operation in Jenin city that left at least 10 Palestinians dead on Thursday. In the wake of the operation, two shootings in Jerusalem claimed the lives of seven Israelis.

*Ahmed Asmar and Ikram Imane Kouachi contributed to this report.

Source: Anadolu Agency