Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday as one of several meetings with leaders in the region as the war escalates in the Gaza Strip.
Blinken visited Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian territory, to meet with the Palestinian Authority leader as part of his efforts to help civilians in the Gaza Strip and begin to determine a post-war scenario for Gaza, The Associated Press reported. As Palestinian president, Abbas oversaw affairs in the West Bank and Gaza until 2007, when Hamas, a U.S. State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization, seized control of Gaza.
Even as Blinken tried to keep his visit secret, protests erupted against him, and videos from Quds News Network, a Palestinian outlet, show demonstrators burning a picture of Blinken.
The men did not speak after greeting each other in front of journalists and the meeting ended without public comment, so it is not clear how the meeting went.
The visit comes as President Joe Biden said he wants a “pause” in fighting in the region.
Blinken also met with Israeli leaders as well as officials in Lebanon and Jordan to discuss the ongoing conflict.
Meanwhile, the death toll for the conflict continues to climb, with estimates of the number killed in Gaza at around 10,000, though accurate figures are hard to ascertain since the Gaza health ministry, the source of the numbers on the Palestinian side, is notoriously unreliable in that regard, as many officials, including President Biden, have stated.
The war began on Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and brutally killed more than 1,400 people, including at least 31 U.S. citizens, and took more than 200 people captive.