In the wake of the 11-day war between Hamas and Israel, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to visit the region this week “to discuss relief efforts and working together to build better futures for Palestinians and Israelis.”
The Biden Administration has pledged millions in aid to help rebuild Gaza after Israel’s massive bombing campaign to stop rocket fire. During the conflict, Hamas and other terrorist groups fired more than 4,000 rockets into south and central Israel. It remains to be seen if this aid can be kept out of the hands of Hamas, an organization that runs Gaza and is designated as a terror organization by the State Department and committed to the destruction of Israel.
Blinken told ABC’s This Week he believes the U.S. can manage to provide the aid and keep it out of the hands of Hamas: “Look, we’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-governmental authority.”
Blinken will also come to advance the “two-state solution.” On Friday President Biden said at a press conference, “We still need the two-state solution. It is the only answer.”
On Sunday Blinken said, “President Biden’s been very clear that he remains committed to a two-state solution. Look, ultimately, it is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, and of course, the only way to give the Palestinians the state to which they’re entitled. That’s where we have to go.”
But speaking with ABC News's "This Week" program, Blinken said the people of Gaza pay the price for Hamas's belligerence.
"The fact of the matter is, Hamas has brought nothing but ruin to the Palestinian people, it's gross mismanagement of Gaza while it's been in charge and, of course, these indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, which elicited the response that they did because Israel has a right to defend itself."
During his meeting with Israeli leaders, it is likely the issue of Iran will come up. During the conflict with Israel, Hamas leaders and other Palestinian groups inside Gaza boasted of how Iran supplied, funded, and provided technical support for its massive supply of rockets.
In the meantime, the U.S. is currently holding indirect talks with Tehran in Vienna to resume the Iranian nuclear deal that President Trump withdrew from in 2018. Iran wants sanctions relief before it agrees to rejoin the agreement. Blinken said, “We know what sanctions would need to be lifted if they’re inconsistent with the nuclear agreement.”
Yet many in Israel are concerned sanctions relief will provide more money for Iran to help Hamas resupply its rocket arsenal as well as fund its other proxy groups in the region.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer told CBN News, “Iran is stirring the pot in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Gaza. That’s all of Iran’s terror proxies in the region, which is another reason why what’s going on in Gaza. We shouldn’t lose sight of who the big enemy is, Iran. I hope very much that the U.S. administration will not go back into the dangerous nuclear deal with Iran and it will continue to keep the pressure on that Iranian regime that represents a threat to us. It represents a threat to our Arab neighbors and it represents a threat to peace throughout the region.”
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