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.
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.”