JERUSALEM: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken began a Middle East visit in Israel on Tuesday, hoping to bolster its cease-fire with Gaza’s ruling Hamas militants and help speed humanitarian aid to the devastated Palestinian enclave.
In tandem with Blinken’s mission, Israeli authorities said they were allowing fuel, medicine and food earmarked for Gaza’s private sector to enter the territory for the first time since 11 days of cross-border hostilities started on May 10.
Blinken was also due to visit Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Cairo and Amman, with the United States, harbouring “every hope and expectation” the cease-fire would continue to hold, a senior State Department official said.
“Our primary focus is on maintaining the cease-fire, getting the assistance to the people who need it,” said the official, who spoke on Monday on the condition of anonymity. Egypt brokered the truce, in coordination with the United States.
But the official suggested it was too early for wider peace talks between Israel, in political flux after four inconclusive elections in two years, and the Palestinians, divided by enmity between Hamas and Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas.