Blinken urges de-escalation in Israeli-Palestinian clashes


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged all sides to de-escalate in Israeli-Palestinian clashes while recognising Israel’s right to self-defence in the face of rocket attacks.

“We’re very focused on the situation in Israel, West Bank, Gaza, very deeply concerned about the rocket attacks… that need to stop and need to stop immediately,” Blinken said on Monday before his meeting with visiting Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Xinhua news agency reported.

He also expressed concerns about “the violence and provocative actions in and around the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.”

Blinken welcomed Israel’s decision to reroute an annual nationalist flag parade and postpone a decision on the eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.

“It’s imperative that all sides take steps to de-escalate and calm the situation,” he stressed.

The top US diplomat also voiced deep concerns about rocket attacks against Israel, saying Israel has a right to defend its people and its territory from these attacks.

Safadi in his remarks highlighted that Jerusalem is a “red line” and maintaining peace and stability in Jerusalem is the key.

“Our focus right now is ensuring that the escalation stops… we do believe that all immediate provocative measures against either the peoples of Sheikh Jarrah or in terms of violations into al-Haram must stop, status quo needs to be preserved, and the rights of the Palestinians need to be respected,” he added.

After hundreds of Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli police in East Jerusalem on Monday morning, Hamas launched a rocket attack at Jerusalem in the afternoon, which drew a heavy Israeli response.

The tension between Israelis and Palestinians has been flaring up over the past few days amid the escalating violence in East Jerusalem between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli forces.

The clashes were sparked by the Israeli restrictions on Palestinian Muslims in East Jerusalem during the holy month of Ramadan and a plan to evict some Palestinian families from a neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.

Israel seized the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed East Jerusalem shortly after the war, claiming it as part of the Israeli capital.