Blinken warns of further conflict if Sheikh Jarrah evictions continue

US secretary of state says he raised concerns with Israeli leaders during trip to the region this week

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken boards his plane at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman on May 27, 2021 after visiting Jordan on the last stop of his Middle East tour. AFP
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken boards his plane at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman on May 27, 2021 after visiting Jordan on the last stop of his Middle East tour. AFP

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he warned Israeli leaders that moving forward with the evictions of Palestinian families could spark renewed conflict.

“We raised the concerns that we have on all sides with actions that in the first instance could spark tension, conflict and war and also ultimately undermine even further the difficult prospects for two states," Mr Blinken told the news website Axios on Thursday.

In talks with Israeli leaders, Mr Blinken mentioned “evictions of Palestinians from their homes where they lived for decades and generations, the demolitions of housing as well ... and of course everything that took place on and around the Temple Mount", Axios reported.

Mr Blinken was returning to the US from Jordan after a visit to the Middle East in which he called for regional co-operation to consolidate a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza militants.

Mr Blinken met Israeli and Palestinian leaders during two days of talks, giving his and the Biden administration's support to the Egyptian-brokered truce that ended 11 days of heavy Israeli bombing of Gaza.

"Securing the ceasefire was important, particularly because of the devastating toll violence took on families on both sides," Mr Blinken said after talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Amman, his final stop.

"We see the ceasefire not as an end, but as a beginning of something to build on."

After talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Mr Blinken promised to rebuild US relations with the Palestinians by reopening a consulate in Jerusalem, as well as providing millions in aid.

The announcements signalled a break with US policy under former president Donald Trump, who had shut the diplomatic mission for Palestinians in 2019 and slashed aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Mr Blinken also reiterated support for Israel's right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Gaza by the Palestinian territory's ruling Hamas group, and said that the group must not benefit from reconstruction aid.

Updated: May 28, 2021 09:55 AM

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