Blinken arrives in Egypt as Israeli-Palestinian tensions soar

January 30, 2023 1:15 pm

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. [Source: Aljazeera]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Egypt at the start of a three-day Middle East visit with Israeli-Palestinian tensions escalating and Russia’s war in Ukraine and Iran’s nuclear programme high on his agenda.

After a stop in Cairo, Blinken will travel on Monday and Tuesday to Jerusalem and Ramallah, where he will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, respectively.

Blinken’s trip had been planned with Netanyahu’s new right-wing government being the focal point, as concerns over the future of Israel’s direction and stalled peace talks with the Palestinians loomed large.

Article continues after advertisement

But the visit took on new urgency on Thursday after Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians and after a Palestinian carried out a retaliatory gun attack in occupied East Jerusalem that killed seven Israelis outside a synagogue a day later.

Another attack followed on Saturday. Fears have spiked that already spiralling violence will further escalate.

In talks with the new Israeli administration, which includes ultra-nationalist parties that want to ramp up settlement construction in the occupied territories, Blinken will repeat the United States’ calls for calm and emphasise Washington’s support for a two-state solution. Blinken will also travel to Ramallah to meet Abbas, other Palestinian officials, and members of civil society. With both leaders, Blinken will call “broadly for steps to be taken to de-escalate tensions”, US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

Analysts questioned whether Blinken could achieve any breakthroughs.