Blinken will meet regional leaders to build better futures for people in Middle East


F.P. Report

WASHINGTON Senior State Department Official has said that Secretary Blinken will be traveling to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo, and Amman at the request of President Biden and will be departing later on Monday. 

This he said while during the briefing the media on Secretary’s Upcoming Travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo, and Amman.

He said that I want to speak to you on the Secretary’s upcoming trip to Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, and Jordan but first I want to recognize the important development of last week, the ceasefire led by Egypt.

State Department official said that this ceasefire was agreed to after 11 days of violence which tragically claimed the lives of innocent Palestinians and Israelis, including children, and it’s just really heartbreaking.  The United States wants to convey our deepest condolences to the families who have lost loved ones in the conflict, and our thoughts go out to those who are wounded.

He added that US really appreciate the important role played by Egypt, which was critical in the effort to mediate an end to the violence, and also really appreciate the roles of Jordan and Qatar and other partners who played a role here.

In the wake of the ceasefire, Secretary Blinken will be traveling to Israel and the West Bank today and tomorrow, where he’ll meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.  He’ll then move on to Egypt and Jordan, where he’ll meet with leaders there to discuss recovery efforts and a means of working together to build better futures for people here on the ground and in the region.

The Secretary looks forward to meeting regional leaders and discussing how the U.S. can support Israelis and Palestinians to rebuild and address the underlying causes that led to this crisis, and by advancing equal measures of freedom, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians alike in tangible ways.

While answering to a question, official said that in the first instance, the most important thing is that the ceasefire does hold.  It’s an – extremely important that it does.  We just – we don’t want to see a return to the bloodshed that was heartbreaking during the 11-day conflict.  And we’re certainly going to look for ways to improve Israeli and Palestinian lives, and as we’ve said over and over again, advance freedom, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians alike, hopefully in tangible ways in the immediate term.

He further said that we’re going to be working in partnership with the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority to kind of channel aid there in a manner that does its best to go to the people of Gaza. I’m also sure that the Government of Egypt will have some role in that.  As we’ve seen in life, as we all know in life, there are no guarantees, but we’re going to do everything that we can to ensure that this assistance reaches the people who need it the most.

Senior officials added that there has been a cycle of violence between Israel and Hamas that’s gone on for years and it’s even over a decade old, so we understand that. But we also understand that the international community does want to help the people of Gaza.  And so we’re just going to be focused on providing assistance – seeing that assistance is provided in a manner that’s consistent with our goals, and that’s what it’s about right now. 

While answering to a question regarding the rebuilding of Gaza after the violence,   officials we’ve been meeting regularly and intensively with the United Nations, which is going to – we expect to lead the reconstruction efforts there.  We’ve also been meeting with the PA and together with the United Nations to look for a formula to kind of create a partnership between the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority to channel through the reconstruction assistance. And I think we don’t talk to Hamas, obviously, but we would – we expect that they understand that if assistance is going to come in, that’s the manner it’s going to do so.  But you’re right; it presents significant challenges.  But we believe that by doing so it will get us on the pathway, we hope eventually, to a reintegration to some extent of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, which we hope in turn can help create the conditions to move us forward to a more stable situation.

He added that US are in close communication with our partners in the Gulf about how to move forward. The United Nations hasn’t even completed its back-of-the-envelope assessment yet in terms of the needs, and they’ll be going into Gaza and continue to go in to conduct these assessments in the days ahead. But we’re in touch with the Gulf, and again, we are – and other donors – and we’re trying to structure things, again, in a way that diminishes Hamas’s abilities, strengthens the people of Gaza, begins a process of hopefully reintroducing and reintegrating the Palestinian Authority into Gaza, and is in partnership with the United Nations.  We are – as I said, we are primarily focused on making sure that the ceasefire holds, on making sure that the people of Gaza get the relief that they desperately need, and that we create the conditions to hopefully advance forward.

Official added that the United States remains committed to the two-state solution.  That remains the vision of the United States, and we are not wavering from that in any way.  It’s probably premature at this time to invite the parties to Washington or anywhere else.  We are – so this will be the Secretary’s first trip to the region.  He’ll be engaging with the parties and listening to them and – again, with a focus on a cease – ensuring that the ceasefire holds and keeping – ensuring that the ceasefire holds.  I’ll just leave it there.  In terms of the expansion of the trip, , I’ll leave all those questions to you.

While clarifying his remarks on Hamas, official said that in terms of the destruction of Hamas’s capabilities, my sense is – our sense is that, of course, that’s not complete.  They’re still there on the ground, they’re still a presence, and that’s why we’re restructuring the way we engage on this file in a manner that seeks to diminish and contain their efforts.  But look, we take the commitments we received from all the parties seriously, and we have every hope and expectation that the ceasefire will continue to hold, at least in the immediate term, and we’re going to do everything we can to work with our partners to ensure that it does continue to hold.

State department official claimed that our primary focus is on maintaining the ceasefire, getting the assistance to the people who need it.  In the first instance, we’ve restarted, as you’ve seen, our relationship with the Palestinian people and leadership that was missing in action for a number of years now and did nothing to restart diplomacy, so in and of itself, that is an important first step.  This is going to be an important trip for the Secretary to meet with Israeli leaders and three Arab leaders in Ramallah, Cairo, and Amman, Jordan, along with their associates. 

Look, in terms of the inter-communal violence and tensions in Israel, obviously, I think the world has seen that.  That is a significant concern.  And look, the United States has just gone through a period where we have kind of confronted or been forced to confront our own challenges at home.  And so we understand that other countries are also going through similar challenges.  So that will be – so I’m sure – let me just say while the focus is primarily on making sure the ceasefire holds in Gaza and bilateral relations with the governments with which we’ll be meeting, obviously, other issues like that I’m sure will come up.