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Blinken trip to Israel aimed at preventing aid to Gaza from reaching Hamas

CM 24/05/2021

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WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit the Middle East for three days of meetings starting Monday, the State Department has announced. He will be “undertaking this trip at the request of President [Joe] Biden,” the department said in a statement.
Blinken is expected to arrive in Jerusalem first, where he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, and other senior officials.

“The most important thing is that the ceasefire does hold,” a senior State Department official said on Monday.
“It is extremely important that it does, we don’t want to see a return to the heartbreaking bloodshed during the 11-day conflict, and we are looking for ways to improve Israeli and Palestinian lives,” the official said. The official also asked what can be done that aid money won’t be diverted to Hamas.“We are going to work in partnership with the UN and the PA to channel aid in a manner that does its best to go to the people of Gaza,” the official said. “We are going to do anything we can that this assistance will reach to the people who need it the most,” the official added. “We are focused primarily on making sure that the ceasefire sticks,” the official said.

“We, and other donors, are trying to structure things in a way that diminishes Hamas’s abilities, strengthens the people of Gaza, begins a process of hopefully reintroducing and reintegrating the Palestinian Authority into Gaza, and is in partnership with the United Nations,” the official said.”The United States remains committed to the two-state solution that remains the vision of the United States,” the official noted.”We are not wavering from that in any way.” They went on to say that “It’s probably premature at this time to invite the, the parties to Washington or anywhere else. This will be the secretary’s first trip to the region. He’ll be engaging with the parties and listening to them,” the official said.

Blinken will next go to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, and other top PA officials. Next, in Cairo, Blinken will meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. His final stop in Amman will be for meetings King Abdullah and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi.
This will be Blinken’s first trip to the region as the US’s top diplomat days after the end of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. “The United States has engaged in intensive diplomacy to bring an end to the hostilities in Gaza,” the State Department said. “Secretary Blinken is traveling to the region to discuss essential follow-up efforts to consolidate the ceasefire and reduce risks of further conflict over the coming months.”
Biden released a statement that “during his trip, Secretary Blinken will meet with Israeli leaders about our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security.”
“He will continue our administration’s efforts to rebuild ties to, and support for, the Palestinian people and leaders, after years of neglect,” Biden added. “And he will engage other key partners in the region, including on the coordinated international effort to ensure immediate assistance reaches Gaza in a way that benefits the people there and not Hamas, and on reducing the risk of further conflict in the coming months.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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