On his trip to the Middle East, the US Secretary of State is on a double mission: in the West Bank, as before in Jerusalem, he is promoting the two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. But Iran's nuclear program is also high on Blinken's agenda.
After talks with Israel, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also urged the Palestinians to stick to the two-state solution in the Middle East. In addition, after a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, Blinken called for steps towards de-escalation in view of the recent violence on both sides. The US rejected any action from either side that stood in the way of the two-state solution.
For his part, Abbas called for an end to Israeli actions that violated international law. His government is also ready to work with the US to return to political dialogue. Blinken's Middle East trip comes against the background of the worst violence between Israel and the Palestinians in years. In January alone, 35 Palestinians died in clashes with Israeli security forces, the highest number in a month since 2015.
After an Israeli raid on a refugee camp in Jenin that left ten Palestinians dead, the Palestinian government suspended a security cooperation agreement. Conversely, a Palestinian killed seven people outside a synagogue in Jerusalem last week, the deadliest such attack in years.
Despite the US commitment to the two-state solution, there is little hope for political progress in the Middle East conflict in the region. In addition to the controversial issues that have existed for decades, a clearly right-wing government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now in power in Israel. She has increased the security forces in the West Bank and wants to strengthen the settlements there. Most recently, Israeli-Palestinian talks took place under US auspices in 2014.
Blinken met with Israeli Defense Minister Joav Gallant before speaking to Abbas. In addition to the situation in the West Bank, the Iranian nuclear program was an issue, it said. After their meeting the day before, Netanyahu and Blinken reiterated that Iran would not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. "We discussed ways to deepen cooperation to counter Iran's destabilizing activities in the region and beyond," Blinken said. "Just as Iran has long supported terrorists who target Israelis and others, the regime is now supplying drones that Russia uses to kill innocent Ukrainian civilians."
Just a few days ago, the United States completed a large-scale military exercise with Israel. According to media reports, it was the largest military exercise that Israel and the United States have ever held together. Former Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Jadlin said: "I have never seen such a huge training by Israel and the US, with the planes and platforms that would be deployed if we chose the military option." He has no doubt that the military option has come to the fore. "If you don't have a credible military option, diplomacy will never succeed." However, a military strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities is the last resort when all other means have failed.