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Blinken in Israel to push for stabilizing Gaza ceasefire

Secretary of State Tony Blinken landed in Israel on Tuesday, the first stop on his first trip to the Middle East since assuming office.

Why it matters: State Department officials, who are realistic about the current low chances of reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, say the visit will focus on stabilizing the Gaza ceasefire and start discussions on humanitarian aid and reconstruction.

Driving the news: Blinken was scheduled to visit Jerusalem and meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

  • Later, he will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah in the central West Bank.

The state of play: State Department officials said the U.S. wants to push forward with the reconstruction of Gaza and humanitarian relief efforts in a way that will not benefit Hamas.

  • They said the U.S. wants to work with both the UN and the Palestinian Authority on those efforts.
  • The Palestinian Authority has no control over Gaza, but the U.S. hopes the reconstruction efforts will help in returning the Palestinian Authority to Gaza in some form.

What they're saying: "Hamas will not have veto power over the reconstruction efforts," a State Department official said.

  • "We can’t fully guarantee it but we will do everything we can to make sure the assistance will go to the people of Gaza and not to Hamas."

What's next: On Wednesday, Blinken will travel to Amman, Jordan, and Cairo, Egypt, for meetings with King Abdullah and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

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