As part of his second tour of the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken paid a surprise visit this Sunday to the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmud Abbas. The meeting took place in Ramallahthe capital in fact of the West Bank, where they discussed the Israeli offensive in Gaza, as well as possible future scenarios for this territory in the event that Hamas is defeated.
Blinken met with Abbas a day after his meeting with representatives of Arab countries, who reiterated their demand for a ceasefire in Gaza. Washington, for its part, has not yet appealed for a cessation of hostilities, although it unsuccessfully asked Israel for a “humanitarian pause” in the Strip to avoid more civilian deaths and be able to deliver humanitarian aid to the territory.
“I have no words to describe the genocide and destruction suffered by our Palestinian people in Gaza at the hands of Israel’s war machine, which has no regard for the principles of international law,” Abbas told Blinken, in remarks published by the Palestinian news agency Wafa. The Palestinian leader called for an immediate ceasefire and for greater humanitarian aid to be allowed into Gaza.
For his part, Blinken focused the meeting on considering the possibility of the Palestinian Authority controlling the Strip in a post-conflict scenario. US Secretary of State suggested that an “effective and revitalized Palestinian Authority” could govern the Strip, although he highlighted that other countries and international institutions could be responsible for the security of the territory, without giving more details. If Blinken’s plans are fulfilled, it would mean the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, after Hamas seized power from the PA in Gaza 16 years ago.
The militant group Hamas is a rival to Abbas’s party, Fatah, which is within the coalition of forces that make up the Palestinian Authority. “We will fully assume our responsibilities within the framework of a comprehensive political solution that includes all West Bank (occupied), including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip,” Abbas responded. The Palestinian leader stressed that “military and security solutions” will not bring more security to Israel and insisted that peace can only be achieved by ending the occupation of Israel and establishing a Palestinian state.