November 29, 2021

Blinken Pledges US Support to Rebuild Gaza During Jerusalem Visit | Voice of America

JERUSALEM – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken underscored Israel’s right to defend itself as he visited Jerusalem on Tuesday as part of an effort to build on a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that went into effect late last week.

Speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blinken said both Israel and the Palestinians experienced “profound” losses during the fighting, and that there is a lot of work ahead to restore hope, respect and trust.

“Casualties are often reduced to numbers, but behind every number is an individual human being — a daughter, a son, a father, a mother, a grandparent, a best friend,” Blinken said.  “And as the Talmud teaches, to lose a life is to lose the whole world, whether that life is Palestinian or Israeli.”

Blinken said the United States will be rallying international support for reconstruction assistance in Gaza, with measures to ensure Hamas militants do not benefit.  He also pledged help to expand economic opportunities for Palestinians both in Gaza and in the West Bank, saying that doing so would provide for a more stable environment that will benefit both Palestinians and Israelis.

Blinken planned to make announcements about aid efforts later Tuesday as he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah.

Netanyahu thanked the United States for its show of support, while warning the militants to maintain the cease-fire.

“If Hamas breaks the calm and attacks Israel, our response will be very powerful,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint news conference in Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks at U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (not pictured) during a joint news conference in Jerusalem, May 25, 2021.

Iran nuclear agreement

Netanyahu also expressed his opposition to the prospect of the United States rejoining the international agreement that limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.  The Israeli leader has long been a critic of the deal, reiterating Tuesday his belief that it “paves the way for Iran to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons with international legitimacy.”

The United States withdrew from the agreement in 2018 under former President Donald Trump, who argued it gave Iran too much while not restraining its nuclear activity enough.

U.S. President Joe Biden was the country’s vice president when the agreement was brokered in 2015 between Iran and a group of world powers that also included Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.  Those parties argued the deal was the best way to ensure Iran could not develop a nuclear weapon by requiring inspections of its nuclear facilities, limiting the amount of enriched uranium it could stockpile, restricting the level of enrichment and dismantling some of its nuclear infrastructure.

Stops in Egypt, Jordan

Blinken’s Middle East trip will include a visit to Egypt, which mediated the Gaza truce between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militants. He will meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.     

Egyptian mediators have been traveling across the Gaza border and met with Abbas in an effort to sustain the cease-fire.    

Blinken will conclude his trip with a stop in Amman to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, the State Department said.       

Children gather beside the crater where the home of Ramez al-Masri was destroyed by an air-strike prior to a cease-fire reached after an 11-day war between Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel, May 23, 2021, in Beit Hanoun, the northern Gaza Strip.
Children gather beside the crater where the home of Ramez al-Masri was destroyed by an air-strike prior to a cease-fire

Hamas fired rockets from Gaza at Israeli cities on May 10 for what it said were rights abuses committed by Israel against Palestinians in Jerusalem.            

Israel retaliated with targeted artillery and airstrikes on leaders of Hamas and the group’s infrastructure. The international  community condemned Israel for blowing up high-rise buildings and striking refugee camps and other targets, which caused extensive civilian casualties, including women and children.

in U.S.
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