| 20 June 2021, Sunday | النسخة العربية

Blinken: US support for Gaza without Hamas and plans to reopen consulate in Jerusalem

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Tuesday, announcing that his country would press on with a plan to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem. He said  that Washington would rally support to rebuild Gaza as part of efforts to bolster a cease-fire between its Hamas Islamist rulers and Israel.
But  made clear that the United States intended to ensure that Hamas, which it regards as a terrorist organization, did not benefit from the humanitarian aid — a potentially difficult task in an enclave over which it has a strong grip.
Blinken began his regional visit in Jerusalem, where he held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli leader, speaking to reporters with the top US diplomat at his side, threatened a “very powerful response” if Hamas renewed cross-border rocket strikes.

Blinken said the US fully supported Israel against Hamas attacks and said it would prevent the militia from benefiting from Gaza’s reconstruction funds.
The US secretary of state also said his job in the region was to reduce tension.

In tandem with Blinken’s mission, Israeli authorities said they were allowing fuel, medicine and food earmarked for Gaza’s private sector to enter the territory for the first time since 11 days of cross-border hostilities started on May 10.
Blinken was also due to visit Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Cairo and Amman, with the United States harboring “every hope and expectation” the cease-fire would continue to hold, a senior State Department official said.
“Our primary focus is on maintaining the cease-fire, getting the assistance to the people who need it,” said the official, who spoke on Monday on the condition of anonymity. Egypt brokered the truce, in coordination with the United States.
But the official suggested it was too early for wider peace talks between Israel, in political flux after four inconclusive elections in two years, and the Palestinians, divided by enmity between Hamas and Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas.

The truce, brokered by Egypt and coordinated with the United States, began on Friday after 11 days of the worst fighting between Palestinian militants and Israel in years. Now in its fifth day, it has been holding.
“We know that to prevent a return to violence we have to use the space created to address a larger set of underlying issues and challenges,” Blinken said.
“And that begins with tackling the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza and starting to rebuild.”