State Department spokesperson Ned Price restated the United States' concerns on Friday about the loss of civilian lives in an IDF raid in Nablus on Wednesday and emphasized that "Only the Israelis and Palestinians themselves" can take steps to decrease regional tensions.
“We believe it’s critical for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to refrain from any unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions or have the potential to undercut efforts to advance the prospects for a negotiated two‑state solution.”State Department spokesperson Ned Price
Said Arikat of the Palestinian Al-Quds newspaper asked Price if he was concerned that extremist officials in the Israeli government - specifically Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich - are allowed to "decide the fate of the West Bank."
"As we’ve said before, we believe it’s critical for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to refrain from any unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions or have the potential to undercut efforts to advance the prospects for a negotiated two‑state solution," Price replied, noting that any annexation of territory would undermine the peace process.
Arikat noted that IDF raids in Palestinian cities such as Nablus and Hebron have resulted in dozens of fatalities, including civilians. He asked Price what "measures ought to be taken to ensure that Palestinian civilians are protected" until a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is reached.
"Two things are true at once," Price said. "In this case, we recognize, as I noted yesterday, the very real security concerns that Israel faces. We’ve seen far too many just crushing examples of those very real security threats to Israel and to the Israeli people. At the same time, we’ve been deeply concerned, we’ve been alarmed, at the loss of civilian life. And of course yesterday we saw another tragic example of the loss of civilian life in an Israeli counterterrorism raid in Nablus, as you mentioned."
‘Violence begets violence’
“Aren’t you concerned that violence begets violence, and this horrible unbridled Israeli violence will ultimately create counterviolence?” Arikat asked.
Price said that while the US' immediate goal is not to bring the parties together to negotiate a solution, it aims to support them as they work to de-escalate tensions and then eventually take steps toward a two-state solution.
Finally, he touted the US' humanitarian relief for Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza, saying, "Over the two years of this administration, we’ve provided more than $900 million, almost a billion dollars, of humanitarian support, of humanitarian relief, to the Palestinian people in Gaza, to the Palestinians in the West Bank."
Price had said a day earlier that the US "is extremely concerned by the levels of violence in Israel and the West Bank" following the Nablus raid, as reported in The Jerusalem Post.
Omri Nahmias contributed to this report.