US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Cairo on Wednesday to lobby to consolidate an Egypt-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.
The senior US diplomat has already met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to lend Washington’s support for Friday’s truce that ended 11 days of Israeli bombing of Gaza and rocket fire from the enclave into Israel.
After talks with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at his headquarters in the occupied West Bank, Blinken vowed to rebuild US relations with the Palestinians by reopening a consulate in Jerusalem, as well as providing millions in aid to the gang of war-torn Gaza.
The announcements marked a break with US policy under former President Donald Trump, which closed the diplomatic mission for the Palestinians in 2019 and cut aid to the Palestinian Authority.
# photo1 In the long run, Blinken spoke of the “possibility of resuming the effort to achieve a two-state solution, which we continue to believe is the only way to truly secure Israel’s future as a Jewish state and democratic, and of course to give the Palestinians the state to which they are entitled.
After meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, he reiterated his support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks by Hamas leaders in Gaza, adding that they should not receive international aid to reconstruction.
In Cairo, Blinken is due to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi before flying to Jordan for talks with King Abdullah II.
# photo2 Unlike the United States and many European governments, which boycott the ruling Hamas movement in Gaza as a terrorist group, Egypt maintains regular contact.
Egypt was also the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.
– Reconstruction of Gaza –
Cairo sent delegations to Tel Aviv and Gaza to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire and also coordinated international relief and reconstruction assistance for the Palestinian territory, which has been under Israeli blockade for nearly 15 years old.
US President Joe Biden held a telephone interview with his Egyptian counterpart on Monday for the second time in less than a week to discuss relief efforts.
Blinken said on Wednesday that the United States was providing more than $ 360 million in aid to the Palestinian people.
This includes $ 250 million in economic, development, security and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people announced in March and April.
On top of that, the administration intended to provide $ 75 million in additional aid to the Palestinians, as well as $ 5.5 million in immediate disaster assistance for Gaza, and nearly $ 33 million. dollars for an emergency humanitarian appeal from the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees.
“All of these funds will be administered in a way that benefits the Palestinian people – not Hamas, which has only brought misery and despair to Gaza,” Blinken said.
Last week, Sisi pledged $ 500 million to aid reconstruction efforts in Gaza.
Even before the fighting had ended, he had sent ambulances to Gaza to take out some of the most seriously injured for treatment in Egyptian hospitals.
It has since sent food and medical supplies through the Egyptian border post at Rafah, the only point of entry into Gaza not controlled by Israel.
– British FM in Jerusalem –
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab visited Jerusalem on Wednesday, also to support international efforts to consolidate the ceasefire.
Speaking ahead of scheduled talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Raab called for an end to the “cycle of violence” with a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The events of the past month demonstrate the urgent need to make real progress towards a more positive future for Israelis and Palestinians, and to break (the) cycle of violence that has claimed so many lives,” he said. .
The latest military escalation began after clashes inside the compound of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, which is also revered by Jews as the Temple Mount.
Israeli security forces had moved to Palestinian worshipers there towards the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
They had also sought to quell protests against the threat of evicting Palestinian families from homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem to make way for Jewish settlers.
Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire on Gaza killed 253 Palestinians, including 66 children, and injured more than 1,900 people in 11 days of conflict from May 10, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Rockets and other fire from Gaza killed 12 in Israel, including an Arab-Israeli child and teenager, an Israeli soldier, an Indian national and two Thai workers, doctors said. Some 357 people in Israel were injured.
© 2021 AFP