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Middle East.  Blinken calls on Israel and the Palestinians to ‘end the cycle of violence’

US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken spoke to Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Tuesday to call on them to “end the cycle of violence” after the escalation of recent weeks.

The US State Department also announced in the evening that the head of Middle East affairs, Yael Lempert, would travel from Tuesday until April 26 to Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, and Egypt, for discussions aimed at “reducing tensions” in the region.

In separate calls with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Antony Blinken stressed “the importance of seeing Palestinians and Israelis working to end the cycle of violence,” the State Department said in statements.

Refrain from any act or statement that fuels escalation

He also called on both sides to show “restraint” and “refrain from any act or statement that fuels the escalation of tensions,” including on the Al-Masjid compound in East Jerusalem, the third holiest site. of Islam, but also the holiest place in Judaism under its name of Temple Mount.

The Secretary of State had already met on Monday with his Jordanian counterpart Aymane al-Safadi to insist on “the importance of preserving the historic status quo” on this site administered by Jordan, but access to which is controlled by the Hebrew state.

In his appeal with the head of Israeli diplomacy, Antony Blinken “reiterated the unwavering support of the” American “government for the security of Israel and condemned the recent rocket attacks from Gaza”. To the Palestinian president, he reaffirmed “the United States’ commitment to improving the quality of life of the Palestinian people in concrete ways.”

“A negotiated two-state solution”

To both, he pleaded for “a negotiated two-state solution” living side by side, despite a moribund peace process.

The Israeli Air Force on Tuesday carried out strikes against the Gaza Strip, the first in three months, in retaliation for a rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave.

The violence comes amid ongoing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, aggravated by four attacks in Israel between March 22 and April 7, which killed a total of 14 people.

In the wake of these attacks, the Israeli army carried out several operations, some deadly, in the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by the Jewish state since 1967, in particular in regions from which certain perpetrators of the attacks in Israel originated.

More than 150 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces on Friday and Sunday at the Al-Masjid compound, which coincided with the Jewish Passover holiday and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.