Blinken stresses de-escalation in call with Palestinian Prez


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the need to de-escalate tensions and end the ongoing violence in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza during a phone conversation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Blinken and Abbas on Wednesday “discussed the violence in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, and the Secretary expressed his condolences for the lives lost as a result” Xinhua news agency quoted the State Department as saying in a readout.

“The Secretary also expressed his belief that Palestinians and Israelis deserve equal measures of freedom, dignity, security and prosperity,” the readout added.

Also on Wednesday, Blinken spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, voicing support for the country’s right to defend itself and urging all parties to de-escalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence.

Since Monday, hundreds of rockets have been fired at southern and central Israel while Israel has carried out deadly airstrikes throughout Gaza.

At least 65 people in Gaza and seven in Israel have been killed by airstrikes and rocket attacks, according to official reports from both sides.

The current wave of violence between Israel and Gaza militant groups has been the first of its kind since the last large-scale air and ground offensive that Israel waged on the Palestinian enclave for 50 days in 2014.