Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has underscored the need for Israel to stop all unilateral measures, including settlement construction, home demolitions, raids on cities and villages, and extrajudicial killings.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held telephone talks with Abbas on Saturday to discuss the potential escalation and asked him not to push for a vote at the United Nations Security Council to condemn Israel.
Reliable Palestinian sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Abbas informed Blinken that the Israeli government should stop its acts on the ground.
The Palestinian readout of the phone call said Abbas urged the US to immediately and effectively intervene to press Israel to stop all these measures.
It added that Blinken assured Abbas that he would reach out to the Israeli government “in an effort to stop the unilateral Israeli actions on the ground.”
The Biden administration is scrambling to avert a diplomatic crisis over Israeli settlement activity this week at the UN.
Without giving details, the State Department said in nearly identical statements that Blinken had spoken to Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “reaffirm the US commitment to a negotiated two-state solution and opposition to policies that endanger its viability.”
“The secretary underscored the urgent need for Israelis and Palestinians to take steps that restore calm and our strong opposition to unilateral measures that would further escalate tensions,” the statements said.
Neither statement mentioned the proposed UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate halt to Israeli settlements. The Palestinians want to bring that resolution to a vote on Monday. And neither statement gave any indication as to how the calls ended.
The US opposes the Palestinian resolution and is almost certain to veto it. Not vetoing would carry considerable domestic political risk for Biden on the cusp of the 2024 presidential race and top House Republicans have already warned against it.