WASHINGTON – Foreign Minister Antony Blinken travels to the Middle East to urge Israelis, Palestinians and regional actors to build on last week’s ceasefire in Gaza by laying the groundwork for an eventual resumption of protracted peace talks.
President Joe Biden announced that Blinken would be leaving on Monday for brief visits to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan and Egypt to attend the Biden government’s personal meetings at the highest level on the crisis that erupted earlier this month is.
In a statement, Biden said Blinken will also work with regional partners to “ensure coordinated international efforts to ensure immediate aid reaches the Gaza Strip”.
The government had come under severe criticism for responding to the deadly violence, including from democratic allies in Congress who called for a tougher stance on Israel and a response to rocket attacks by Palestinian militant groups in Gaza.
The government has defended its response by stating that it had engaged in intense but calm high-level diplomacy to support a ceasefire that was finally agreed last week after the Egyptian mediation.
Blinken said on Sunday that Biden’s efforts behind the scenes had paid off and struck a truce after eleven days.
“President Biden, who led this effort, decided that we could be most effective in doing it. And ultimately, after these intense efforts across the government, we got where everyone wanted to be to end the violence, ”he said in an interview with CNN.
Download the NBC News App for breaking news and politics
“But now, as the president said, I think it is up to all of us to try to turn the tide, to build something more positive, and that basically means that Palestinians and Israelis alike need to know and in their day Daily life are the same benchmarks for opportunities, security and dignity, ”said Blinken.
He said the time is not for an immediate resumption of negotiations between the two sides, but steps could be taken – mostly humanitarian initiatives – to repair damage from Israeli air strikes in Gaza, causing significant civilian infrastructure damage and death caused.
“I don’t think we are in a place where there is some kind of negotiation, which in my opinion must ultimately be the outcome, which is a two-state solution and which is the first task,” he said . “We need to start rebuilding in concrete ways and offering real hope, prospects and opportunities in people’s lives.”