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Blinken says regional integration in Mideast only possible with a Palestinian state

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (Reuters)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (Reuters)
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18 Jan 2024 12:01:11 GMT9
18 Jan 2024 12:01:11 GMT9
  • Arab nations are amenable so Israel should seize the opportunity, urges US secretary of state in Davos
  • Calls for “a stronger reformed” Palestinian Authority that works with Tel Aviv

Sherouk Zakaria

DAVOS: The US’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken said a “pathway to a Palestinian state” is imperative to achieving genuine regional integration and ensuring Israel’s long-term security.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos on Wednesday, Blinken said Israel “will not get genuine integration, genuine security absent (a Palestinian state).”

He noted the changing mindset of leaders in the Arab and Muslim world who, he said, were more open to integrating Israel into the region, but the question remains: “Is Israeli society prepared to engage on these questions? Is it prepared to have that mindset?”

He pointed to the “profound opportunity for regionalization in the Middle East,” urging quick action toward integration in the face of the human tragedy faced by “Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Blinken said that integration, with a Palestinian state, would unify the region and isolate Iran and its proxies, which includes Yemen’s Houthi militia who have been attacking and seizing commercial ships in the Red Sea.

However, he stressed that “a stronger reformed Palestinian Authority that can more effectively deliver for its people has to be part of the equation,” and needs to operate with the help of Israel, rather than its opposition.

“Even the most effective authority is going to have a lot of trouble if it’s got the active opposition of any Israeli government,” he said.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a right-wing government that is opposed to Palestinian statehood, with Netanyahu himself recently saying his actions over the years prevented the formation of such a state.

Blinken said it is up to the Israelis to decide whether the country can “seize the opportunity that we believe is there.”

He noted that the “Palestinians are looking hard at how they can come up with more effective governance that deliver what people want,” noting that the Palestinian Authority was working to address fundamental issues including eliminating corruption and improving transparency.

Asked whether Jewish lives matter more than Palestinian lives, Blinken answered: “No, period.”

He described the scenes in Gaza as “gut-wrenching” and noted that “the suffering we’re seeing among innocent men, women and children breaks my heart.”

“The question is what is to be done,” he said.

Israel began its latest war on Gaza — after the militant group Hamas launched a series of attacks on Oct. 7 — killing more than 24,000 Palestinians and injuring over 61,000, with many more buried under the rubble.

The intense bombing has left the majority of Gaza in ruins and pushed the population to the verge of famine.

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