Blinken thanks outgoing Israel PM, warns on West Bank violence

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced alarm on Thursday about rising tensions in the West Bank, in a call to thank outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who has conceded defeat in his country’s elections.

Blinken spoke to Lapid to “commend Israel for its free and fair elections, and to thank the prime minister for his partnership,” the State Department said in a statement.

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Blinken voiced “his deep concern over the situation in the West Bank, including heightened tensions, violence and loss of both Israeli and Palestinian lives, and underscored the need for all parties to urgently de-escalate the situation.”

The occupied West Bank is witnessing its deadliest period in years, as Israel prepares to form perhaps its most right-wing government in history under Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu’s Likud party and its far-right allies triumphed on Tuesday in the country’s fifth election in four years.

The West Bank has seen near-daily army raids and an increase in clashes and attacks on Israeli forces. Israel on Thursday killed four Palestinians, including an alleged attacker and an extremist fighter, medics and security officials said.

Lapid last year cobbled together a motley coalition united in opposition to Netanyahu.

Also serving as foreign minister, Lapid put a priority on smooth relations with the United States, warning that Netanyahu had alienated Israel’s allies in US President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party.

Netanyahu worked closely with former Republican president Donald Trump and had tense relations with previous Democratic president Barack Obama, rallying the then-US leader’s domestic critics to oppose a now-moribund 2015 nuclear accord with Iran.

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