US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shuttled from Israel to the Palestinians' West Bank Tuesday, appealing for an end to resurgent violence and reaffirming Washington's backing for a two-state solution to the decades-long conflict.
Blinken is urging calm on both sides after last week's killing by a Palestinian gunman of seven people outside a Jerusalem synagogue and anger among Palestinians over actions by Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank.
"That's the only way that we can create conditions in which people's sense of security will start to improve," he told a news conference in Jerusalem.
He took that message into a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, warning all parties against any action that could threaten a two-state solution, with an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.
He said he had heard "deep concern" about the current trajectory in both Israel and the West Bank but also constructive ideas and he had asked senior officials to remain behind to continue talking.
A senior State Department official said the officials staying would be Barbara Leaf, the top department official for the Middle East, and Hady Amr, U.S. special representative for Palestinian affairs.
Blinken's first visit since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power this month at the head of one of the most right-wing governments in Israel's history comes at a time of extreme tension between the two sides.
He said Palestinians were facing a "shrinking horizon of hope" that needed to change.
An Israeli incursion into a refugee camp in the northern city of Jenin last week, set off a gunfight in which 10 Palestinians died.
"The Israeli government is responsible for what is happening today, because of its practices that undermine the two-state solution and violate the signed agreements," Abbas said after his meeting with Blinken.
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas (R) meets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Tuesday.