Blinken Meets With Palestinian and Iraqi Leaders in Bid to Contain Gaza War

As tensions from the Gaza conflict echoed across the region, Mr. Blinken and Mr. Abbas also discussed efforts to restore calm in the West Bank and to stop extremist violence against Palestinians, according to a statement from the State Department. Strikes by the Israeli military and deadly attacks by armed Israeli settlers in the West Bank have surged since the Oct. 7 Hamas incursion.

Millions of Palestinians live under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, and Mr. Blinken has described the extremist violence against them as “an acute concern” for the United States.

Mr. Abbas’s organization, the Palestinian Authority, is a rival of Hamas, which ousted it from Gaza in a violent coup in 2007. Mr. Abbas has long advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and Palestinian security forces under his direction have worked closely with Israel to arrest Palestinian militants.

There are indications that if Hamas is defeated, the Palestinian Authority could have a role in Gaza. After the meeting on Sunday, a senior State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Blinken had made it clear that the United States believes the Palestinian Authority should play a central role in what comes next in Gaza.

Mr. Abbas has not, however, publicly condemned the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, largely out of fear of inflaming sentiment among Palestinians, with whom he is deeply unpopular. He has called more generally for a cease-fire and for protections for Palestinian civilians.

Mr. Blinken and Mr. Abbas last held talks three weeks ago in Amman, days after the Hamas attacks.

On his trip to Baghdad on Sunday, the secretary of state met with Iraq’s prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, in what amounted to a show of support.

Baghdad was the latest stop on a trip through the region aimed at containing the fallout from Israel’s war with Hamas. One of the Biden administration’s top priorities has been to deter Iran and its proxies — particularly Hezbollah, the armed group that controls areas of Lebanon along Israel’s northern border — from entering the fray.