U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday after meeting earlier with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nenyatanhu in Jerusalem. VOA reports
His visit comes as Israel and the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, agreed at the last minute on Thursday to a third extension of their cease-fire agreement.
In Jerusalem, Blinken said it was imperative that Israel take great care to avoid civilian casualties if it starts major military operations in southern Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have sought shelter after fleeing their homes in the northern part of the territory.
Blinken told Netanyahu that the U.S. will continue “support for Israel’s right to protect itself from terrorist violence in compliance with international humanitarian law and urged Israel to take every possible measure to avoid civilian harm,” the State Department said.
The U.S. is hoping to find a way to extend a cease-fire in Gaza and get more hostages released, the State Department said Monday.
Blinken’s visit is his third trip to the Middle East since Israel’s war with Hamas began last month.
Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinians gathered in downtown Ramallah to protest against U.S. policy and Blinken’s meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“We are standing here as a Palestinian people, as the civil society and all the Palestinians, to send a very strong message to (Antony) Blinken and also to the Palestinian President (Mahmoud Abbas) that Blinken is not welcome here in Palestine,’’ said protester, Jamal Juma.
“He has participated in the genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.”