Blinken says Palestinians in Gaza must not be displaced as he meets Mahmoud Abbas

US Secretary of State is on his second tour of the region since the Israel-Gaza war began

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah
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Palestinians in Gaza must not be forcibly displaced from the devastated strip, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said during an unannounced visit to the occupied West Bank.

Mr Blinken, on his first visit to the West Bank since the Israel-Gaza war began, made the comments to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting on Sunday in Ramallah.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Mr Blinken "made clear that Palestinians must not be displaced", during the hour-long meeting.

"The secretary also expressed the commitment of the United States to working towards the realisation of the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for the establishment of a Palestinian state," Mr Miller said.

Palestinians in Ramallah protest Blinken's visit to occupied West Bank

Palestinians in Ramallah protest Blinken's visit to occupied West Bank

Neither Mr Blinken nor Mr Abbas made any public statements after the meeting, which comes as the Secretary of State makes his second tour of the region since Hamas launched its attack on Israel on October 7.

On that day, Hamas fighters entered southern Israel and killed about 1,400 people. The Israeli response has been to pummel the Gaza Strip with air strikes, killing more than 9,000 people.

While the US has supported Israel and repeated that its ally has the right to defend itself, senior officials in Washington have increasingly called for a humanitarian truce.

Arab leaders, including Mr Abbas, have gone further, demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

But officials in the US officials and other western nations say a ceasefire would empower Hamas and allow the militant group to strike again.

"There are no words to describe the genocidal war and destruction that our Palestinian people in Gaza are enduring at the hands of the Israeli war machinery, with no regard for international law," Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted Mr Abbas as saying during meeting with Mr Blinken.

Only injured civilians and dual citizens have been allowed to leave Gaza through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt as Israel continues its bombardment.

Gaza residents are reliant on humanitarian aid sent through Rafah after Israel imposed a complete blockade of the coastal enclave following the Hamas attack.

Mr Blinken and Mr 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", Mr Miller added.

While violence against Palestinians in the West Bank was already high, attacks have surged since October 7. Hundreds have been forced to flee their homes after attacks and threats from Israeli settlers.

Mr Abbas said he held the Israeli authorities responsible for what was happening and called on Israel "to immediately stop these crimes", Wafa reported.

Mr Blinken then briefly stopped in Cyprus, where he met President Nikos Christodoulides. They discussed a Cypriot proposal for a dedicated maritime corridor to enable a sustained flow of humanitarian aid from the country to civilians in Gaza, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said.

Mr Christodoulides earlier said the mechanism over how aid could be delivered was still being discussed.

"Ships cannot approach the sea area off Gaza so we are talking to the United Nations, which will handle the aid and not Hamas," he said.

Mr Blinken travelled to Ramallah by road from Jordan's capital Amman, where he held talks on Saturday with the foreign ministers from of Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar, as well as a senior aide to Mr Abbas.

He was expected to travel on Turkey as part of his regional tour. There have been reports he will visit Iraq, although Iran-backed armed groups in the country have voiced opposition to such a trip.

Updated: November 05, 2023, 5:00 PM