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.