Demonstrations in Ramallah as Blinken holds talks with Abbas

Dozens of angry protesters demonstrate against US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s arrival in Ramallah, burning posters of him and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Blinken was in Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas following meetings with Netanyahu and other officials in Israel. Protesters demanded that Abbas not meet with Blinken and that the PA end communication with Washington. They called the US “the snake’s head” and accused it of enabling Israel’s war in Gaza. Tensions in the West Bank are high, with the ongoing conflict in Gaza escalating the situation. Last year was deadly in the West Bank, with over 350 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire. As Blinken met with Abbas, the crowd tried to access the road leading to the presidential compound, but were prevented by police and security forces. Blinken discussed efforts to minimize civilian harm in Gaza and increase aid delivery, as well as post-war plans for Gaza. Abbas insisted on preventing the displacement of Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank while stating that the Gaza Strip is part of Palestine. In Israel, Blinken called for reforms in the PA and emphasized the necessity of a path to a Palestinian state for lasting peace and Israeli security. Before visiting Israel, Blinken met with Arab allies to discuss a longer-term approach to the conflict and find a solution to the war in Gaza. He urged Netanyahu to avoid harming civilians in Gaza. Relations between the US and Israel remain close, with shared goals for the Gaza conflict. Iranian involvement in the conflict has raised concerns about further regional war, with the US being particularly worried about attacks on American bases and facilities. Despite these concerns, the return of the USS Gerald Ford aircraft carrier to the US suggests that the risk of a full regional war may be decreasing.