Palestinian and Israeli envoys reject US call for calm in conflict

Israelis and Palestinians have denounced the Biden administration’s call to step back following clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in east Jerusalem.

he confrontations escalated into rocket attacks on Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and retaliatory strikes from Israel’s military.

“The US State Department message is not acceptable to me,” Israel’s ambassador to the US, Gilad Erdan, wrote on Twitter.

“It is impossible to put in the same message statements by Israeli leaders who call for calm alongside instigators and terrorist organisations that launch missiles and rockets.”

The Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said on Tuesday: “The continued paralysis of the Security Council on the situation in Palestine is unacceptable. The international community must condemn all of Israel’s illegal actions.”

Advocates for both sides say the Biden administration appears to be pursuing an interim strategy that lacks coherence and sends mixed messages to the parties, neither of which has shown a willingness to listen or back down.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was sending a senior diplomat to meet Israeli and Palestinians officials.

President Joe Biden won initial but cautious plaudits from Middle East analysts when he rejected the Trump administration’s unabashedly pro-Israel stance and tentatively embraced the Palestinians by restoring aid and diplomatic contacts.

However, the Biden administration has retained key elements of Donald Trump’s policies, including several that broke with long-standing US positions on Jerusalem and the legitimacy of Israeli settlements.

The administration has said little would be accomplished with immediate, wholesale shifts in Israel-Palestinian policy. Israelis fear even subtle shifts away from Mr Trump’s hard line on the Palestinians and Biden’s determination to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal represent a direct threat to their security.

“The parties have basically been conditioned over the past four years,” said former US Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller, who served under Republican and Democratic administrations.

“The Trump sugar high for the Israelis and the vinegar high for the Palestinians have created a certain set of expectations that this administration hasn’t addressed.”

Mr Biden’s administration has not yet named an ambassador to Israel or indicated that it will appoint a special envoy for peacemaking.

Mr Trump’s nomination of an ambassador to Israel was one of his earliest appointments, announced more than a month before his inauguration. Barack Obama chose former senator George Mitchell to serve as his Middle East peace envoy on his second day in office.

Mr Miller said: “The lack of an ambassador to Israel and a consul general in Jerusalem is a serious problem.”

Some Democrats and other progressives are also voicing frustration.

“The US must call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to provocative and illegal settlement and recommit to working with Israelis and Palestinians to end this conflict,” said Vermont independent senator Bernie Sanders.

While it has condemned Hamas rocket attacks on Israel and backed Israel’s absolute right to self-defence, the Biden administration has been unwilling to say whether the Palestinians meet the criteria to enjoy that same right of self-defence.

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

I have 26 years of experience as a professional writer and editor and have been working as a full time freelancer since 2011. I am originally from Casablanca, Morocco, and I graduated from Qatar University with a degree in journalism. I have worked for newspapers, magazines, news agencies, websites. I speak fluent Arabic, French, English, Russian and Spanish.

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