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Blinken, in West Bank, says Gazans must not be 'forcibly displaced'

Israel forces kill four Palestinians in West Bank — ministry

By AFP - Nov 05,2023 - Last updated at Nov 05,2023

RAMALLAH, Occupied Palestine — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Gazans "must not be forcibly displaced", speaking on a surprise visit on Sunday to the Israeli-occupied West Bank to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In Gaza nearly 9,800 people, also mostly civilians, have died in Israel's land, air and sea attack, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

"The secretary reaffirmed the United States' commitment to the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance and resumption of essential services in Gaza and made clear that Palestinians must not be forcibly displaced," said a summary of the meeting released by the US State Department.

Abbas condemned what he labelled a "genocide" unfolding in the Gaza Strip, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

"I have no words to describe the genocide and destruction suffered by our Palestinian people in Gaza at the hands of Israel's war machine, with no regard for the principles of international law," Abbas was quoted as saying to Blinken.

Blinken flew into Tel Aviv on Sunday morning and travelled in a high-security convoy to the Ramallah headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, the body which, he recently said, should replace the Hamas government in Gaza.


Violence in West Bank 


But Abbas said the Palestinian Authority could only take power if a "comprehensive political solution" is found for the Palestinian-Israel conflict encompassing the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, according to Wafa.

Hamas took over the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority in 2007, after being blocked from exercising real power despite winning a parliamentary election the previous year.

The US Secretary of State is the second high-ranking Western visitor to the West Bank since the war started, following French President Emmanuel Macron.

The unannounced trip came amid sharply rising violence in the West Bank since the outbreak of the war in Gaza.

Blinken and Abbas “discussed efforts to restore calm and stability in the West Bank, including the need to stop extremist violence against Palestinians and hold those accountable responsible”, said the State Department.

The US “remains committed to advancing equal measures of dignity and security for Palestinians and Israelis alike”, it added.

More than 150 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by Israeli troops and Jewish settlers since the start of the war, according to the Palestinian Authority.

Four were killed on Sunday in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian health ministry and the Israeli army.

Blinken’s meeting with Abbas, whose secular Fateh Party is Hamas’s rival, came at a time Washington has heaped political and military support on its ally Israel.

Blinken has urged “humanitarian pauses” in Gaza on his latest tour of the Middle East, to protect civilians and ease aid deliveries to the densely populated territory.

The United States has also advocated for a two-state solution as the only path out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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