U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Photo: AFP
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Blinken reaffirms two-state support ahead of Mideast tour

Top U.S. diplomat says Gaza ceasefire could help pivot from violence to 'something more positive,' adding that 'grave' humanitarian situation in the Palestinian enclave must be addressed first and reassuring Washington will work to not allow aid to fall into terrorist groups' hands

AFP |
Published: 05.23.21, 19:03
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking ahead of a trip to the Middle East, reaffirmed on Sunday Washington's support for a two-state solution as the only way to provide hope to Israelis and Palestinians that they can live "with equal measures of security, of peace and dignity."
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  • His remarks came days after Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire, halting 11 days of mutual bombardment that killed 12 people in Israel and more than 200 Palestinians.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
    (Photo: AFP)
    "If there isn't positive change, and particularly if we can't find a way to help Palestinians live with more — with more dignity and with more hope, this cycle is likely to repeat itself, and that is in no one's interest," Blinken said on ABC's "This Week."
    The U.S. State Department announced Thursday that Blinken will travel to the Middle East "in the coming days", with plans to meet with Israeli, Palestinian and regional counterparts.
    Blinken's support for a two-state solution — the vision of Israel and a Palestinian state living peacefully side by side — restates a long-time U.S. goal, though he conceded that this was not "necessarily for today."
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    ארכיון 2010 ג'ו ביידן אז סגן נשיא ארה"ב עם אבו מאזן ב רמאללה
    ארכיון 2010 ג'ו ביידן אז סגן נשיא ארה"ב עם אבו מאזן ב רמאללה
    Then-U.S. VP Joe Biden meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2010
    (Photo: AP)
    But his remarks about "equal measures" for Israelis and Palestinians seemed to shift the tone, at least, from former U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, which cut aid to the Palestinian Authority and issued a Middle East peace plan with strong Israeli backing but no support from Palestinians.
    The top U.S. diplomat emphasized the need to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians while beginning a major effort at reconstruction.

    'Something more positive'

    Saying the ceasefire would help mark a pivot from violence to "something more positive," he added, "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 people's lives.
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    A view shows the remains of a building after it was destroyed in Israeli air strikes, amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza City
    A view shows the remains of a building after it was destroyed in Israeli air strikes, amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza City
    The remains of a building after it was destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City
    (Photo: Reuters)
    He was asked on ABC how the Biden administration could ensure that aid would go to ordinary Palestinians and not help the Hamas terrorists who launched thousands of rockets at Israel.
    "We've worked in the past and we continue to work with trusted, independent parties that can help do the reconstruction and the development, not some quasi-government authority," he said.
    "The real challenge here is to help the Palestinians and particularly to help the Palestinian Authority deliver better results for their people, and of course, Israel has a profound role to play in that too."
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    Iron Dome intercepts rockets from Gaza over Ashkelon
    Iron Dome intercepts rockets from Gaza over Ashkelon
    Iron Dome intercepts rockets from Gaza over Ashkelon
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Israel's response to the Hamas rocket barrages has drawn sharp criticism from some liberal members of the U.S. Congress who have questioned American arms sales to the Jewish state.
    Asked about that, Blinken replied, "The president has been clear we're committed to giving Israel the means to defend itself... At the same time, any arms sale will be done in full consultation in Congress."
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