US Sec. Blinken visits Middle East to ‘Solidify Ceasefire’ with Hamas

May 25, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Israel in wake of the IDF’s counterterrorism Operation Guardian of the Walls against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on June 16, 2016. Credit: David Azagury/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv.

“At the request of President Biden, I am travelling to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo, and Amman to meet with the parties to support their efforts to solidify a ceasefire,” he stated Monday.

The unconditional ceasefire, brokered primarily by Egypt, went into effect on Friday morning after 11 days of warfare. The situation in the area is still tense with Hamas already presenting demands and issuing threats about the resumption of the hostilities if Israel does not meet its demands.

Blinken will first travel to Jerusalem, where he will meet with President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, and other senior Israeli officials.

In Ramallah, he will meet with Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, and other senior officials from the PA.

Blinken will then travel to Cairo to meet with President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

The Secretary will conclude his trip with a stop in Amman to meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

The US “has engaged in intensive diplomacy to bring an end to the hostilities in Gaza. Secretary Blinken is travelling to the region to discuss essential follow-up efforts to consolidate the ceasefire and reduce risks of further conflict over the coming months,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price explained.

Israel and Hamas have agreed only to a ceasefire. The crossings into the Gaza Strip are still mostly closed due to Hamas’ repeated attacks on them, except for the limited transfer of humanitarian equipment.

The fishing zone off the coast of Gaza is still closed. Power lines running into Gaza, which were damaged in the warfare, have yet to be repaired by Israel, and fuel enters Gaza only in a limited fashion, so there are 3-4 hours of electricity a day, instead of the 12 they had prior to the campaign. Pressure on the Strip is high.

Israel stated that it has changed its policy of responding to rocket fire from the Strip and will not tolerate any attacks from Hamas or the Islamic Jihad, meaning that renewed hostilities may only be a short while away.

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