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Saturday, 25 September 2021

Blinken in Egypt as part of Mideast tour to bolster Gaza ceasefire

Menna Alaa El-Din , Tuesday 25 May 2021
Shoukry
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Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will receive US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Cairo on Wednesday as part of a Middle East tour aimed at bolstering a Cairo-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hamas last week.
 
According to a statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry, Shoukry and Blinken will deliver remarks during a press briefing following their meeting.
 
Blinken will be arriving from Ramallah where he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and announced that Washington would reopen its consulate in Jerusalem under efforts to restore ties with Palestinians after it had been provoked by Donald Trump’s administration.
 
A move by Trump to merge the consulate with the US embassy in Israel in 2019 after recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and later relocating the embassy there from Tel Aviv had angered Palestinians.
 
Blinken said re-opening the consulate in Jerusalem would be "an important way for our country to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people”.
 
He pledged during his meeting with Abbas an additional $75 million in development and economic aid to the Palestinians in 2021.
 
Other aid includes $5.5 million in immediate disaster relief for Gaza and $32 million to U.N. Palestinian aid agency, Blinken said, as he stressed that Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, does not benefit from the humanitarian aid provided by the US.
 
This brings overall US assistance to Palestinians under the Biden administration to over $360 million after the previous administration led by Trump nearly cut off assistance to the country.
 
His meeting with Abbas came hours after he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and said the US would continue to strengthen its "long-standing partnership" with Israel.
 
Netanyahu waved after his meeting with Blinken "very powerful response” if Hamas renewed its attacks on Israeli towns.
 
Blinken’s tour of the region, which will also include Jordan’s Amman, comes as an Egypt-sponsored ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions continues to hold.
 
The 11-day fighting has been deemed the most serious since 2014 as Israel upped aggression on Gaza with artillery and air strikes in response to rocket attacks on Israeli towns from the strip, which is controlled by Hamas.
 
At least 254 people were killed in Gaza with over 1,900 wounded, according to Palestinian health authorities, while the death toll in Israel stood at 13. 
 
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