JERUSALEM: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged on a Middle East mission on Tuesday that Washington would rally support to rebuild Gaza as part of efforts to bolster a ceasefire between its Hamas Islamist rulers and Israel.
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 U.S. diplomat at his side, threatened a “very powerful response” if Hamas renewed cross-border rocket strikes.
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.”
The United States, he said, would work to rally international support around that effort and make its own “significant contributions”, to be announced later in the day.
“We will work with our partners, closely with all to ensure that Hamas does not benefit from the reconstruction assistance,” Blinken said about the group.
Brinken will stay in the area on Thursday and will also travel to Egypt and Jordan. Since the start of hostilities on May 10, Israeli authorities have joined his visit to allow fuel, medicine and food dedicated to the private sector in Gaza to enter the territory.
Brinken said that he hopes to rebuild relations with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority. He will meet Western-backed Palestinian President Abbas in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank later that day.
Israel’s negotiations with the Authority failed in 2014. Donald Trump, the predecessor of U.S. President Joe Biden, cut aid to Palestinians while pushing for a plan that would give Israel control of its establishment in the West Bank. Many settlements.