Secretary of State to meet with Israeli, Palestinian leaders following cease-fire
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the region after the Israeli Security Cabinet signed a cease-fire with Hamas on Thursday.
The State Department spokesperson Ned Price released a statement Thursday night detailing communication between Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. Price said that Blinken and Ashkenazi had been in discussions Thursday morning and afternoon regarding the cease-fire and Blinken’s trip to the region.
“Both leaders expressed their appreciation for Egypt’s mediation efforts, and the Secretary noted that he would continue to remain in close touch with his Egyptian counterpart and other regional stakeholders,” Price said, according to the press release.
“The Foreign Minister welcomed Secretary Blinken’s planned travel to the region, where the Secretary will meet with Israeli, Palestinian, and regional counterparts in the coming days to discuss recovery efforts and working together to build better futures for Israelis and Palestinians.”
The news comes after the Israeli Security Cabinet approved plans for a cease-fire with Hamas, ending an 11-day conflict that has killed civilians and destroyed areas in both Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The cease-fire was negotiated by Egypt, which was in talks with both Israel and Hamas, the militant group. Hamas confirmed to Reuters that it will abide by the truce.
The cease-fire will end some of the most brutal fighting that the region has seen since 2014. Hamas has fired thousands of rockets at Israel, striking cities in the north and south. Israel responded to the attacks with a campaign that leveled buildings and other infrastructure in Gaza.
A dozen people, including a child, were killed in Israel, while the Palestinian Health Ministry said Thursday that 232 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, including 65 children.
Biden praised the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas after several calls with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas regarding the violence.
“We have held intensive high-level discussions hour by hour, literally … with an aim of avoiding the sort of prolonged conflict we have seen in previous years when hostilities have broken out,” Biden said Thursday.
“I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live in safety and security and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” Biden continued. “My administration will continue our quiet and relentless diplomacy toward that end. I believe we have a genuine opportunity to make progress and I am committed to working toward it.”
Biden said Netanyahu told him it was a “mutual, unconditional cease-fire.”