Palestinians protest Blinken’s visit amid rising Israeli-Palestinian tensions in West Bank

A Palestinian man holds a flag during a protest against U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to the West Bank, in Gaza City, on Jan. 31, 2023. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to the West Bank prompted outrage among many Palestinians, who demonstrated on Tuesday to express their opposition to the U.S. top diplomat's presence in the Palestinian territory. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to the West Bank prompted outrage among many Palestinians, who demonstrated on Tuesday to express their opposition to the U.S. top diplomat’s presence in the Palestinian territory.

The protesters, both in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, raised the Palestinian flags and chanted anti-U.S. slogans, accusing it of being biased toward Israel and all its violations of Palestinian rights.

“The matter is very simple. Blinken came here to pressure the Palestinian leadership to not adopt any decision against the security cooperation with Israel,” said Nael Salama, who took part in a protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah carrying a banner of “The U.S. is criminal as long as it supports Israel.”

“We came here to deliver our message to Blinken that he is not welcome in our country as his administration’s full bias towards Israel and its practices against the Palestinian people,” Issam Baker, the coordinator of the national and Islamic forces in Ramallah, told Xinhua.

He emphasized that the U.S. administration used “double standards” in dealing with the Palestinian issue, adding that it will “only lead to further continuation of the cycle of violence.”

Since the start of 2023, Israeli forces have killed at least 35 Palestinians, making January one of the most deadly months in the West Bank in recent years. Most casualties occurred during Israeli military raids, which Israel says aimed to detain Palestinian militants.

In retaliation, a shooting attack launched by a Palestinian gunman outside a synagogue in an Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem claimed the lives of seven people on Friday night.

Ahmed Abu Dalfa, a protester in the Gaza Strip, told Xinhua that Blinken’s visit will not bring benefits to the Palestinian people because Washington is “abandoning” its promises to Palestine.

Earlier in the day, Blinken held a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Palestinian presidential headquarters in Ramallah after his meetings with Israelis leaders on Monday.

Blinken urged both the Palestinians and Israelis to calm tensions, while reiterating Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security.

Following his meeting with Blinken, Abbas said that the Israeli government “is fully responsible for the current tension and violence in the Palestinian territories” because it has undermined the two-state solution and violated the signed agreements.

Abbas also accused the international community of failing to end Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories and its settlement policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. ■

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