by Arty Katkov
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu held a press conference following talks in Jerusalem.
US State Secretary Antony Blinken said at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he came to the region to “try to reduce tensions” amid recent escalation at the Gaza border.
243 people in the Gaza Strip were killed, as well as 12 people in Israel as thousands of rockets were fired at Israel by Hamas and the IDF launched deadly airstrikes on the Strip before the ceasefire was struck.
The State Secretary said that Washington supports Israel’s right to defend itself against rockets from Gaza.
“The United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks, such as the thousand rockets fired by [Gaza Strip-controlling movement] Hamas indiscriminately against Israeli civilians,” Blinken said.
“We had a detailed discussion about Israel security needs, including replenishing Iron Dome [air defense system]. We will continue to strengthen all aspects of our longstanding partnership,” the US diplomat added.
Blinken also said that the United States will seek international support for the reconstruction of Gaza and will make its own contribution.
“We know that to prevent a return of violence we have to use the space created to address a larger set of underlying issues and challenges. And that begins with tackling the humanitarian situation in Gaza and starting to rebuild. The United States will work to rally international support around that effort, also making our own significant contributions,” Blinken said at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Blinken previously stated that the US administration would rely on “trusted, independent parties that can help do the reconstruction and the development, not some quasi-government authority” to rebuilding efforts in Gaza could be fulfilled without funding Hamas.
Netanyahu Vows Response
Israel will respond if the Hamas movement violates the ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
“If Hamas breaks the calm and attacks Israel, our response will be very powerful,” Netanyahu said during the joint press conference.
The Israeli Prime Minister also added that he discussed ways to improve the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip with Blinken.
Blinken’s Middle East tour, undertaken at the request of President Joe Biden, is set to last from 24-27 May and will take the US Secretary of State to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo, and Amman.
Hostilities at Gaza-Israel Border
The tour comes amid the largest confrontation in recent years at the Gaza border, which has lasted 11 days, before an Egypt-brokered ceasefire was struck on Thursday night.
The conflict between Gaza-based Hamas militants and Israel escalated on 10 May after several days of violent clashes between the Arab population and Israeli police in East Jerusalem triggered by court rulings to evict Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of the city and a ban on Palestinians visiting certain holy sites during Ramadan.