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Biden urges Gaza-Israel calm in first call with Abbas

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By Reuters
Biden urges Gaza-Israel calm in first call with Abbas
Biden urges Gaza-Israel calm in first call with Abbas   -   Copyright  (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021. Click For Restrictions -

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden urged calm between Israel and Gaza on Saturday and affirmed his support for a two-state solution in his first phone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas since taking office, the official Palestinian news agency said.

The conversation came amid heavy fighting between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip. Biden dispatched an envoy to the region on Friday to work for calm.

Biden told Abbas the United States “is making efforts with the concerned parties to reach the goal” of reducing violence in the region, a summary of the call published by WAFA said.

Biden also said the United States opposes the eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah, the summary said, a case that helped ignite tension in the holy city and spark fighting between Israel and Gaza militants.

Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) has limited-self rule in the occupied West Bank, part of territory Israel captured, along with Gaza and East Jerusalem, in the 1967 Middle East war.

But the PA exerts little influence over Gaza and its Islamist rulers Hamas, which seized control of the Palestinian enclave in 2007 after a bloody falling out with Abbas’s Fatah party.

The U.S. considers Hamas a terrorist organisation, and does not talk with the group.

Some analysts say Hamas appeared to see the escalation with Israel as an opportunity to marginalise Abbas and present itself as the guardian of Palestinians in Jerusalem, whose eastern sector they seek for a future state.

(Reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah. Editing by Mark Potter)