On Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in the Middle East to press Israelis, Palestinians and regional actors to expand and strengthen last week's Gaza cease-fire, begin an accelerated flow of humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip, and set the foundation for a resumption of long-stalled peace talks.
In a statement obtained by The Associated Press, President Joe Biden said that Blinken would work with regional politicians to ensure "the coordinated international effort to ensure immediate assistance reaches Gaza."
A senior State Department official told the Associated Press that Blinken's talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordanian King Abdullah II, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi will center on strengthening the cease-fire, ending intra-communal violence in Israeli cities, sending urgent aid to Gaza, and laying the groundwork for a return to peace talks.
According to the White House, Biden and el-Sissi spoke on Monday concerning "the urgent need to deliver humanitarian assistance to those in need in Gaza and to support rebuilding efforts in a manner that benefits the people there and not Hamas."
Blinken will talk with representatives from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Jordan, but not with the militant Hamas movement that controls Gaza. "I don't think we're in a place where getting to some kind of a negotiation for what ultimately, I think, has to be the result, which is a two-state solution, is the first order of business," Blinken said.
Contacts between American officials and Hamas are restricted because the group is designated as a "foreign terrorist organization" by the United States.
The State Department official, who talked to Associated Press reporters on the condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to discuss the trip by name, said Blinken would be looking at how the US could help Israel and the Palestinians rebuild, resolve the root causes of the conflict, and advance fair measures of liberty, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians "in tangible ways."
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John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Washington Gazette, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.