Biden sends Blinken to Middle East to bolster Israel and Hamas ceasefire

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President Biden has dispatched Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the Middle East to talk to Israelis, Palestinians and regional players to bolster the ceasefire that halted fighting between the Israelis and Hamas, the White House said on Monday. 

“Blinken will meet with Israeli leaders about our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security. He will continue our Administration’s efforts to rebuild ties to, and support for, the Palestinian people and leaders, after years of neglect​,” the president said in a statement issued by the White House.

“And he will engage other key partners in the region, including on the coordinated international effort to ensure immediate assistance reaches Gaza in a way that benefits the people there and not Hamas, and on reducing the risk of further conflict in the coming months​,” it said. ​

A ceasefire was reached last Thursday between the Israelis and members of the Hamas militant group — a truce brokered by Egypt that brought an end to more than 11 days of fighting. 

While Egypt played a large role in the ceasefire, Blinken said the Biden administration worked “quiet diplomacy” behind the scenes.

“We got to the result thanks to President Biden’s relentless focus on this quiet but I think effective diplomacy in getting to a ceasefire and stopping the violence in 11 days,” Blinken said on ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday. “If you go back and look at previous crises, they’ve lasted a lot longer. But, of course, every single day that these things go on, we see a tremendous loss in human life and in human suffering. And we’re determined to get that — to bring that to an end​,”

​During the interview, Blinken was asked by host George Stephanopoulos how the administration could guarantee that the aid to help Palestinians wouldn’t fall into the hands of Hamas, which could use the cash to buy more weapons to attack Israel. 

“​W​e’ve worked in the past​​ and we can continue to work with trusted, independent parties that can help do the reconstruction and the development, not some quasi-government authority. And the fact of the matter is Hamas has brought nothing but ruin to the Palestinian people​,” Blinken responded.​

“Its gross mismanagement of Gaza while it has been in charge, and, of course, these indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians which have elicited the response that they did because Israel has a right to defend itself​,” he said, adding that the administration’s “real challenge” is to help moderate Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority “deliver better results for their people.”​

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