JERUSALEM -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up a two-day visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank on Tuesday with little to show for his renewed appeals for Israeli-Palestinian calm amid an alarming spike of violence.
Blinken met Tuesday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
Afterwards, he said the recent surge in violence was deeply concerning and that it is the responsibility of both sides to take steps to de-escalate the situation. No public pledge was offered by Abbas or Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take such steps.
Beyond urging reduced tension, Blinken offered no new U.S. initiative to do so.
"The rising tide of violence has resulted in the loss of many innocent lives on both sides," he told reporters in Jerusalem before departing for Washington. "All sides must take steps to prevent further escalation of violence.
Blinken said he had instructed Barbara Leaf, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, and Hady Amr, the U.S. envoy to the Palestinians, to remain in the region and work to defuse tensions. It was not clear how long they would stay or what their work might consist of.
Blinken also said the U.S. would oppose "anything" that undermines the two-state vision, including the construction of new settlements, legalization of settlement outposts, demolition of Palestinian homes and incitement of violence.
"Restoring calm is our immediate task. But over the longer term, we have to do more than just lower tensions," he said.
In Ramallah, Abbas placed all blame for the spike in violence on Israel and berated the international community for not doing more to pressure Israel.
"We affirm that the Israeli government is responsible for what is happening today," he said, adding: "Israel is being overlooked, without deterrence or accountability, as it continues its unilateral operations."
He called for the "complete cessation" of those operations.
Blinken was expected to discuss the Palestinian Authority's decision to halt security coordination with Israel. The security ties, which in the past are believed to have helped contain violence, are unpopular among Palestinians, who accuse Abbas of acting as a subcontractor for the Israeli military.
Before heading to the West Bank, Blinken met Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who repeated the prime minister's concern about Iran.
"Your visit comes at a critical time," Gallant said. "It sends a clear message to the region: The United States and Israel are united facing Iran or anyone threatening peace and stability in the region."
Blinken agreed about the need for unity when confronting Iran and preventing the country from acquiring nuclear weapons. He said the U.S. commitment to Israel's security remains 'ironclad' but suggested there was more on his agenda.
Netanyahu's coalition partners gave a cool reception to Blinken's comments.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the ultranationalist Jewish Power party, vowed to push forward with punitive measures against the Palestinians in response to a pair of shootings in east Jerusalem over the weekend. Ben-Gvir has pledged to demolish Palestinian homes and hand out more weapons to Israeli civilians.
Cabinet Minister Orit Strock, another ultranationalist, objected to comments by Blinken that were seen as criticizing the Israeli government's plan to overhaul the country's judicial system and weaken the Supreme Court.
During his appearance with Netanyahu and again Tuesday, Blinken voiced "support for core democratic principles and institutions." Critics say Netanyahu's plan will weaken the country's judicial system and destroy its democratic system of checks and balances.