Copy of 2023-11-05T104638Z_356639070_RC2Y64A9Z4LK_RTRMADP_3_ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS-BLINKEN-1699184610867
Blinken during his meeting with Abbas amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Muqata in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, November 5, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas decried Sunday Israel’s “genocide” in the Gaza Strip amid its war on Hamas militants there, in remarks to visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“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 told Blinken in Ramallah, in remarks carried by official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Blinken told Abbas that Palestinians in Gaza “must not be forcibly displaced”, a State Department spokesman said.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the pair also discussed “the need to stop extremist violence against Palestinians” in the West Bank.

Abbas told Blinken there should be an immediate ceasefire and that aid should be allowed into Gaza, according to spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh.

Blinken said the United States was committed to getting aid into Gaza and restoring essential services there, Miller said.

“The Secretary also expressed the commitment of the United States to working toward the realization of the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Miller said.

Blinken has suggested an “effective and revitalised Palestinian Authority” would make the most sense to ultimately run the strip but admitted that other countries and international agencies would likely play a role in security and governance in the interim.

Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has seen its popularity shrivel amid allegations of graft, incompetence and widely hated security cooperation arrangements with Israel. It is unclear who will succeed the aging and ailing Abbas, 87, a staunch opponent of Hamas.

The foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan said on Saturday after meeting with Blinken that it was premature to talk about the future of Gaza, as they called for an immediate ceasefire to address the humanitarian crisis that has engulfed the strip’s 2.3 million residents.

Blinken argued that a ceasefire would only allow Hamas to regroup, but is trying to convince Israel to agree to location-specific pauses that would allow much needed aid to be distributed within Gaza.

The meeting was Blinken’s second with Abbas since the conflict began, but the first to take place in the West Bank. It was not announced ahead of time and Reuters agreed not to publish details of the trip until it was complete due to security concerns.

Violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, already at a more than 15-year high this year, has surged further since the war began, with more than 170 attacks on Palestinians involving Jewish settlers recorded by the United Nations.

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,” Miller said.