Blinken Announces New Disaster Relief for Gaza Strip

Secretary of State John Blinken says he will ask Congress to allocate $75 million to provide relief to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. This follows a cease-fire on the ground between Israel and Hamas.

Blinken made the announcement Tuesday after talks with Palestinian National Authority President Abbas in Ramallah.

Blinken said, “We know that this latest round of violence is a symptom of a series of problems that must be addressed if we are to prevent a recurrence of violence. That’s the subject of our discussion today,” “We welcome this continued and sustained cease-fire, but it’s not enough, and we have to build on it to try to move the situation in a really positive direction.”

Blinken said the U.S. will reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, which the bit Trump administration closed in 2019, provide $5.5 million in immediate disaster relief and more than $32 million for U.N. emergency humanitarian aid.

Blinken said the reopening of the consulate is “an important way for our country to re-engage with and support the Palestinian people.”

Addressing the issue of Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist organization that controls Gaza, Blinken said, “We will work to ensure that Hamas does not benefit from these reconstruction efforts.”

During his visit to Jerusalem earlier Tuesday, Blinken emphasized Israel’s right to self-defense.

Speaking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blinken said Israel and the Palestinians have endured “tremendous” losses in the fighting and that much work remains to be done to restore hope, respect and trust.

“Casualties are often reduced to numbers, but behind each number is an individual person, a daughter, a son, a father, a mother, a grandfather and a best friend,” Blinken said. “As the Talmud teaches, to lose a life is to lose the whole world, whether that life is a Palestinian or an Israeli. is a Palestinian or an Israeli.”

Blinken also pledged to help expand economic opportunities for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as doing so would provide a more stable environment that would benefit both Palestinians and Israelis.

Netanyahu thanked the U.S. for the show of support, while warning militants to maintain the cease-fire.

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

Netanyahu also voiced opposition to the prospect of the U.S. rejoining the Iran nuclear deal. He has long been critical of the deal and reiterated on Tuesday his belief that the agreement “paves the way for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon with international legitimacy.”

The U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 under former President Donald Trump. Trump said the deal gave Iran too much without severely hamstringing Iran’s nuclear activities.

President Joe Biden was vice president at the time when Iran signed the nuclear deal with the U.S., U.K., China, France, Germany and Russia in 2015. The countries said the deal was the best way to ensure Iran would not develop nuclear weapons because it would require inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities, limit the amount of enriched uranium Iran could store, restrict the level of enriched uranium and dismantle some of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Blinken’s current trip to the Middle East will also include a visit to Egypt, which is coordinating this cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. He will meet with Egyptian President Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

The Egyptian coordinator has been crossing the Gaza Strip border and meeting with Abbas to try to get the cease-fire going.

The State Department said Blinken will also visit the Jordanian capital Amman to meet with Jordanian King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

Hamas has fired rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli cities since May 10, citing Israeli violations of the rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Israel retaliated with targeted shelling and air strikes against Hamas leaders and its infrastructure. The international community has condemned Israel for blowing up high-rise buildings and attacking refugee camps and other targets, resulting in many civilian casualties.