US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on ABC that Biden’s commitment to a two-state solution for Palestine and Israel is the only way forward for the region.
Blinked added that the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was “critical to putting the US in a position to make a pivot to building something more positive.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank on Wednesday and Thursday as part of Washington’s efforts to build on the Gaza truce.
“That has to start now with dealing with the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza. Then reconstruction, rebuilding what’s been lost. And critically, engaging both sides in trying to start to make real improvements in the lives of people so that Israelis and Palestinians can live with equal measures of security, peace, and dignity,” Blinken said.
Blinken stressed that if a positive engagement was not met, the cycle of violence was likely to continue.
“Look, ultimately, it is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state and, of course, the only way to give the Palestinians the state to which they’re entitled. That is where we have to go. We have to start putting in place the conditions that would allow both sides to engage in a meaningful and positive way toward two states,” Blinken said.
Blinken stressed the US’ past work with trusted independent parties to help with reconstruction in Gaza, adding that the challenge would be to empower Palestinian Authorities.
“The fact of the matter is Hamas has brought nothing but ruin to the Palestinian people. Its gross mismanagement of Gaza while it has been in charge, and, of course, these indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians which have elicited the response that they did because Israel has a right to defend itself,” Blinken replied.
“So I think what’s the real challenge here is to help the Palestinians and particularly to help moderate Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority deliver better results for their people. And, of course, Israel has a profound role to play in that too,” he added.
Blinken commented on the progressive Democrats bill to halt arms sales to Israel, saying that the administration was committed to working in full consultation with Congress on arms sales.
“The president has been equally clear we’re committed to giving Israel the means to defend itself, especially when it comes to these indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilians. Any country would respond to that, and we’re committed to Israel’s defense,” Blinken said.
Despite confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinians at a Jerusalem holy site on Friday, there were no reports of Hamas rocket launches from Gaza or Israeli military strikes on the enclave as of Saturday morning.
The ceasefire began before dawn on Friday, and Palestinians and Israelis are now assessing the damage from 11 days of hostilities in which Israel pounded Gaza with air strikes and militants fired back rockets at Israel.
Palestinian officials put the reconstruction costs at tens of millions of dollars and medical officials said 248 people had been killed in Gaza. The devastation has raised concerns about the humanitarian situation in the densely populated enclave.
- with The Associated Press