Antony Blinken touts 2-state resolution to skeptical Israelis, Palestinians


JERUSALEM — On one matter, Israelis and Palestinians seem to agree: Both are deeply skeptical, even scornful, of renewed calls made by the Biden administration this week for a two-state resolution right here. Many referred to as the gesture — at this second of violence and radicalism — feeble, even farcical.

On his first journey to the area after the return of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to energy, and amid days of escalating bloodshed, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken promoted the long-held dream of two states facet by facet — one Israeli, one Palestinian — as the perfect guarantor of peace.

But latest polling means that solely a 3rd of Palestinians and Israelis consider in two states at the moment, and so they each blame the United States for not doing extra. Outside the put up workplace within the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem, Ahmad Abdulazid, a younger accountant, mentioned “the two-state solution is like a song the Americans sing when they want to pacify us. It’s like a lullaby you sing to children to put them to sleep.”

In a information convention Tuesday in Jerusalem earlier than his departure, Blinken set the bar low. “Restoring calm is our immediate task,” he mentioned. “But over the longer term, we have to do more than just lower tensions.”

Blinken reiterated that it was President Biden’s “firm conviction that the only way to achieve that goal is through preserving and then realizing the vision of two states for two peoples.” And he cautioned the Netanyahu authorities: “The United States will continue to oppose anything that puts that goal further out of reach,” mentioning Israeli settlement enlargement and strikes “towards annexation in the West Bank.”

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During Blinken’s joint presser with the Israeli prime minister on Monday, Netanyahu was well mannered however didn’t interact on the idea of “two states,” alluding solely briefly to discovering “a workable solution with our Palestinian neighbors,” earlier than he pivoted to Iran.

On Tuesday, Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, now in his late 80s and struggling for relevance. The two appeared collectively in Ramallah, shaking fingers, then sat throughout from one another as Abbas learn a press release in Arabic.

Abbas blamed Israel for the present spasm of violence, charging that “its practices undermine the two-state solution,” together with the continued constructing of Jewish settlements, the demolition of Palestinian properties, and “murder.” He additionally singled out “the lack of international efforts to dismantle the occupation” of Palestinian territory.

Blinken famous that “it is important to continue not only reducing violence, but to ensure ultimately Palestinians and Israelis alike have the same rights.”

“What we are seeing is the shrinking of the horizon of hope, and that needs to change,” he added, expressing his condolences for “the innocent Palestinian civilians who lost their lives in the last year.”

In his diplomatic rounds, Blinken didn’t name for a brand new spherical of peace talks. He referred to as for calm. The final try to advertise the two-state resolution was beneath President Barack Obama in 2014, led by former secretary of state John F. Kerry, and resulted in failure.

On the subject of lasting peace, many Palestinians and Israelis view this go to by a high U.S. diplomat as simply one other episode in a long-running present, with well-worn themes and a solid of reappearing characters.

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On the road, the 2 sides sound particularly despondent — with each fast to conclude that the Americans are going by the motions, looking for just a little quiet within the Middle East as they fear about greater threats, coming from Russia and China.

Alice Krieger, a peace activist from Tel Aviv, mentioned, “this conflict won’t end because things are going to get worse.”

She noticed that in his remarks on Monday, Blinken expressed his condolences for the seven individuals killed by a Palestinian gunman outdoors a synagogue in East Jerusalem on Friday however didn’t point out the navy raid in Jenin within the West Bank that killed 10 Palestinians a day earlier than.

“He didn’t mention Jenin even. All he did was praise America’s relationship with Israel and say America is with you,” she mentioned. “It made me puke.”

Abdulazid, the Palestinian accountant, was equally blunt: “We are not counting on anything from Blinken and from the Americans.”

Both Israelis and Palestinians identified that Netanyahu’s new authorities — an alliance of settler activists, non secular conservatives and hard-line ultranationalists — rose to energy promising to broaden the occupation of the West Bank and implement harsher measures to counter Palestinian violence.

Abdulazid mentioned he thought the Americans would stand by as Israel constructed extra Jewish settlements within the West Bank and seized extra land.

“But Blinken has to understand this,” he mentioned, “if the Palestinians lose hope, they will turn into monsters.”

Many Jewish Israelis view a Palestinian state to be an unattainable prospect, and so they see the Americans as meddlers, even when well-meaning.

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“The position on the two-state solution is wrong. It’s anti-Israeli,” mentioned Michael Yigal Mimon, 74, a historian from Nahariya in northern Israel.

“The majority is against this solution. We know it’s not going to help,” Mimon mentioned. “The U.S. has this position; we just have to maneuver around it. This is not our position. It is the American position. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

A ballot final week by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research reveals that help for a two-state resolution within the area is at an all-time low, with solely one-third of Palestinians and one-third of Jewish Israelis backing the creation of two states.

Marwan Jabir, the proprietor of a seafood restaurant within the Palestinian neighborhood of Shufat in East Jerusalem, mentioned the Americans nonetheless might play a significant position — by pressuring the Netanyahu authorities to cease demolishing Palestinian properties and finishing up navy raids.

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“You think those things will make the Palestinians more agreeable? More peaceful?” he requested. “America is the only one that can protect Israel from itself.”

Jabir mentioned he has misplaced hope in two states — as he has misplaced hope within the Palestinian Authority and its management.

“I don’t think the Americans are really interested in solving the conflict,” Jabir mentioned. “Abbas is nothing. He’s only a pawn. He’s not a player. He has no power. It’s Israel. It’s America. They decide.”

Sufian Taha in Jerusalem and Hazem Balousha in Gaza City contributed to this report.

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