US Secretary Blinken says ‘all sides need to de-escalate’ in Middle East

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday urged both Israel and the Palestinians to lower tensions and urged an immediate end to rocket fire by Hamas.

“All sides need to de-escalate, reduce tensions, take practical steps to calm things down,” Blinken said as he met his Jordanian counterpart in Washington.

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Blinken strongly condemned rocket fire by Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip, and backed Israel’s right to respond.

The rocket attacks “need to stop immediately,” Blinken said.

He also praised steps taken by Israel over the past day partly in response to concerns led by the US, including rerouting a flashpoint parade meant to celebrate Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967.

Blinken also pointed to the postponement of a decision on the eviction of Palestinian families in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, an immediate trigger for the violence that has left hundreds injured in the holy city.

“But it’s imperative for all sides to take steps to de-escalate the situation,” Blinken said.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that Jerusalem was a “red line” for the kingdom, which has a peace treaty with Israel and maintains a custodial role in the Al-Aqsa compound, known to Muslims as Al-Haram al-Sharif.

“Our focus right now is on ensuring that the escalation stops, and for that to happen we believe that all illegal, provocative measures against the peoples of Sheikh Jarrah or in terms of violations into al-Haram must stop,” Safadi said.

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