Blinken Heads to West Bank After Surge in Violence
Earlier in the day, Mr. Blinken met with Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has helped to mediate two cease-fires between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza since Mr. Biden took office. Mr. Blinken later told reporters he had discussed the current crisis with the Egyptian leader.
New armed groups of young Palestinians, chafing under occupation and the creation of a two-tier legal system that distinguishes between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, emerged last year, increasing the number of Palestinian attacks on Israelis.
But Mr. Abbas is in a weak position to ensure order. The Palestinian Authority administers most Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank, but its grip on areas outside Ramallah, where Mr. Abbas is accused of autocratic behavior, is loosening, particularly in cities like Jenin and Nablus, where the most active insurgents are based.
Mr. Abbas has long avoided fully enforcing the authority’s control in those cities, where public resentment of the body is already high, amid widespread perception that it is corrupt and maintains too close a relationship with Israel. On Saturday, the authority released a statement holding Israel responsible for the escalation, ignoring Israeli calls for the Palestinian leadership to condemn Palestinian violence.
After months of public pressure, Mr. Abbas last week scaled back the authority’s coordination with the Israeli security services, following an Israeli operation in Jenin to arrest several gunmen that left 10 Palestinians dead. Despite U.S. pressure to restore the coordination mechanism, analysts say Mr. Abbas may be reluctant to do so without some kind of Israeli or American concession to the Palestinians.
Palestinian officials have said they would ask the International Criminal Court to investigate the Jenin operation, a move the Biden administration opposes. Last week, a State Department spokesman, Vedant Patel, told reporters that the United States did not believe that “multilateral fora” were appropriate for such pursuits, saying that Israel and the Palestinians should work directly with one another to determine any accountability in such cases.
Though the Biden administration has restored funding to Palestinian institutions that was cut during the Trump administration, Palestinian officials are frustrated that the president has not repealed other Trump-era policies that the Palestinians deem obstacles to statehood.
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