Blinken: Improve Gaza’s humanitarian situation to build on ceasefire
Jerusalem, May 25 (EFE).- The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip must be addressed to build on the recent ceasefire and “prevent a return to violence,” the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday.
Blinken made the remarks at a Jerusalem press conference with Israel’s caretaker prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as he began his first Middle East visit to help bolster the Israeli-Gaza ceasefire.
While expressing Washington’s support to Israel, Blinken placed heavy emphasis on the need to boost development in the Palestinian territories.
“Intense behind the scenes diplomacy led by president Biden, working very closely with the Prime Minister, helped produce last week’s ceasefire, now we believe we must build on it,” he said following his meeting with Netanyahu.
“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 and that begins with tackling the degrading humanitarian situation in Gaza and starting to rebuild.”
He said Washington would rally international support to help fund Gaza’s recovery, adding that he would later announce significant contributions from the US.
Blinken said he would work with partners to ensure that the reconstruction aid did not fall into the hands of Hamas, the Islamist militant group that de facto governs the Gaza Strip and the lead belligerent against Israel in the territory.
“At the same time, we need to work to expand opportunities for Palestinians in Gaza and in the West Bank,” he added.
Blinken is due to visit Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, where he will meet with the President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohamad Shtayyeh.
Blinken’s visit to the Middle East comes days after a truce was reached between Israel and Palestinian militias in the Gaza Strip, which ended 11 days of the worst escalation of conflict in the region since 2014.