'Israelis and Palestinians need to be able to live in safety and security'

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, expresses concerns over rocket fire from Gaza.

Elad Benari ,

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
State Department Photo by Freddie Everett

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Tuesday to Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi amid the ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel.

In a statement, the State Department said that during the call, Blinken “expressed his concerns regarding rocket attacks on Israel and his condolences for the lives lost as a result.”

“The Secretary and the Foreign Minister also discussed the violence in Jerusalem, in particular on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and in Sheikh Jarrah. The Secretary reiterated his call on all parties to deescalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence, which has claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children,” the statement continued.

“The Secretary emphasized the need for Israelis and Palestinians to be able to live in safety and security, as well as enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy. Foreign Minister Ashkenazi and Secretary Blinken acknowledged the steadfast partnership between the United States and Israel, and committed to working together on challenges ahead,” concluded the statement.

Tweeting about the meeting, Blinken wrote, “Spoke with Gabi Ashkenazi today about the ongoing situation in Israel including rocket fire emanating from the Gaza Strip. Israelis and Palestinians need to be able to live in safety and security, as well as enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy.”

Earlier on Tuesday, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat.

According to a statement from the White House, Sullivan “condemned the ongoing rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including against Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. He conveyed the President’s unwavering support for Israel’s security and for its legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians.”

Sullivan “also conveyed the United States’ encouragement of steps toward restoring a sustainable calm. They agreed to continue to stay in close touch,” the statement added.

The conversation came hours after US State Department spokesman Ned Price made a statement in which he asserted that Israel and the Palestinian Arabs have an equivalent right to self-defense, as Hamas launches hundreds of rockets on Israel's southern and central regions and Israel retaliates by targeting terrorists.

“Israel has the right to defend itself and to respond to rocket attacks,” he said. “The Palestinian people also have the right to safety and security just as Israelis do.”

“We call on all sides to exercise restraint and calm,” Price added, lamenting the loss of life on both sides and the hundreds of Arab rioters who were injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem prior to the rocket attacks.

Also on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden wrote a letter to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas asking him to end the current escalation with Israel.



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