Live Updates |

Blinken Announces $38 Million in Aid to Palestinians During Mideast Tour to Consolidate Gaza Cease-fire

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Secretary of State Antony Blinken steps off his plane upon arrival at Cairo International Airport, on Wednesday.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken steps off his plane upon arrival at Cairo International Airport, on Wednesday.Credit: Alex Brandon/AP

Qatar pledges $500 million for Gaza reconstruction

Qatar will provide $500 million to help rebuild Gaza, the foreign minister said on Wednesday.

"Qatar announces $500 million in support for the reconstruction of Gaza," Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said in a Twitter post.


Jordan's king welcomes U.S. move to reopen consulate in Jerusalem

Jordan's King Abdullah told U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken he welcomed the administration's move to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, state owned media said.

Blinken said Tuesday the Biden administration would reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, which had served as a de facto embassy for the Palestinians until former President Donald Trump shuttered it in 2019.

Jonathan Lis

Blinken announces additional $38 million in aid to Palestinians

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that Washington will transfer $38 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank.

The U.S. plans to add another $75 million in aid earmarked for economic development, on top of the $250 million in aid for the Palestinians, which was announced in March.


Merkel, Egypt's Sissi agree Gaza cease-fire must be stabilized

German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed in a video call with Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi that the Gaza cease-fire must be stabilized, a German government spokesman said on Wednesday.

They also agreed on the goal of supporting a resumption in political negotiations, he said.


Blinken arrives in Jordan last leg of Middle East tour

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Amman on Wednesday, the last leg of a Middle East tour aimed at shoring up a cease-fire that ended the worst fighting in years between Israel and Palestinian militants.

Blinken arrived in Amman after stops in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo.


U.S., Egypt working to let Israelis and Palestinians live in safety, Blinken says

The United States and Egypt are working together to let Israelis and Palestinians live in safety and security, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken Antony Blinken said in a speech during his visit to Cairo on Wednesday.

Blinken said during an event at the U.S. embassy in Cairo that Egypt was a real and effective partner in dealing with the latest violence between Israel and Palestinians.


Netanyahu meets U.K.'s Raab

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Wednesday U.K.'s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Netanyahu thanked Raab and Prime Minister Boris Johnson for supporting Israel during the recent round of fighting between Israel and Hamas.

"We greatly appreciate it," Netanyahu said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, today. Credit: Kobi Gideon / GPO

Hamas chief welcomes efforts to rebuild Gaza Strip

Yehya Sinwar, the Hamas chief in Gaza, said on Wednesday that the group welcomed Arab and international efforts to rebuild the enclave.

"We will ease and facilitate the task for everyone and we will make sure that the process will be transparent and fair and we will make sure that no penny goes to Hamas or Qassam (Hamas armed wing)," Sinwar told a press conference.

"We have satisfactory sources of money for Hamas and Qassam. A major part of it from Iran and part in donations from Arab, Muslims and liberals of the world who are sympathetic to our people and their rights," he added.

Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza and has security contacts with Hamas, is likely to have a role in channeling aid, a senior U.S. State Department official said ahead of Blinken's regional tour.

During the fighting, Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and its Sinai Peninsula in order to provide medical aid and evacuate wounded people.

It also deployed a security delegation that shuttled between Israel and Gaza to reinforce the ceasefire after it came into effect early on Friday.

Yahya Sinwar, Palestinian leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, takes the stage at a rally of supporters days after a cease-fire, earlier this week.Credit: John Minchillo,AP

Blinken meets Egypt's Sissi as U.S. seeks to secure Gaza cease-fire

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met top officials in Cairo on Wednesday during a Middle East tour aimed at shoring up a cease-fire that ended the worst fighting in years between Israel and Palestinian militants.

Egypt has longstanding relations with both sides in the conflict and played a key role in brokering the cease-fire after 11 days of violence, in coordination with the United States.

In a brief visit, Blinken met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al- Sissi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and general intelligence head Abbas Kamel at the presidential palace in Cairo. He made no comments to media ahead of the meeting.

Blinken arrived in Egypt after stops in Jerusalem and Ramallah and is also due to visit Jordan. On Tuesday, he pledged that the United States would provide new aid to help rebuild the Gaza Strip, including $5.5 million in immediate disaster relief and nearly $33 million for the UN Palestinian aid agency based there.

He also said the United States intended to ensure that Hamas, which controls Gaza and is listed by Washington as a terrorist organization, did not benefit from the humanitarian aid.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, arrives for a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Heliopolis Presidential Palace, today.Credit: Alex Brandon,AP
Jonathan Lis

Defense Minister Benny Gantz meets UK's Raab

Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz met on Wednesday with the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Gantz and Raab discussed plans to support the Palestinian Authority as well as the Israeli policy change toward the Gaza Strip to achieve a long-standing calm and the return of Israeli captives.

They have also discussed the need to closely monitor Iran's nuclear program and Israel's right to defend itself.


U.K.'s Raab reiterates support for two-state solution

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Wednesday he reiterated Britain's commitment to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict during a meeting with his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi.

"Reiterated the (U.K.'s) commitment to a two-state solution, the importance of a stronger nuclear deal with Iran & our commitment to Israel's security in my meeting with @Gabi_Ashkenazi," Raab said on Twitter.

"Vital we make progress towards a more positive future for Israelis and Palestinians."

The Associated Press

Blinken arrives in Egypt

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Egypt on Wednesday on the next leg of a diplomatic mission aimed at shoring up a cease-fire that ended an 11-day war between Israel and the Hamas.

Blinken was scheduled to hold talks with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry and the country’s chief spy Abbas Kamel.

Blinken wrapped up extensive talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and is scheduled to travel to Amman, Jordan late Wednesday to meet with the Jordanian king and other officials.

Blinken described Egypt and Jordan as central players in trying to bring calm to the region. Both countries are key U.S. allies that have peace agreements with Israel and frequently serve as mediators between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Egypt played a critical role in helping to broker the cease-fire and Jordan has long been a voice for peace and stability in the region,” he told reporters late Tuesday.

President Joe Biden spoke with al-Sissi during the war to help broker the cease-fire.

Ashkenazi hosts British Foreign Minister

Israel's Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi today hosted British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, who is visiting Israel to express his support during Israel's war with Hamas.

Ashkenazi said that "We will work with the international community to weaken Hamas' power. This is in the interests of Israelis, Palestinians, the region and the international community, and will strengthen stability in the Middle East and reduce the threat to residents of Israel."

Ashkenazi thanked Raab for Britain's support for Israel throughout Operation Guardian of the Walls, as well as their condemnation of the firing of missiles at Israeli civilians and Hamas' exploitation of their own civilian population.

The foreign minister asked his British counterpart to work for the release of IDF soldiers' bodies and Israeli civilians being held captive by Hamas.

They also discussed the threat that Iran and its proxies pose to the region and the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

"Iran undermines the stability of the Middle East and encourages violence and terrorism wherever it operates. The international community must prevent Iran from acquiring unrestricted nuclear capabilities," said Ashkenazi.

In addition, the foreign ministers discussed advancing bilateral relations between Israel and the United Kingdom with an emphasis on trade and cooperation regarding COVID-19. The United Kingdom is Israel's largest trading partner in Europe and there is a mutual desire for an expanded trade agreement.

Israel and the United Kingdom have shared information and consulted one another in the fight against COVID-19, including holding discussions to reach mutual recognition of vaccines.

The visit of the British Foreign Minister is the sixth such visit made by foreign ministers to Israel since the fighting began between Israel and Hamas, and more are expected in the coming week.


U.K.'s Raab set to meet Israeli, Palestinian leaders

Britain's Foreign Minister Dominic Raab is set to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders on a one-day visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Raab will have talks on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, as well as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.

"The events of the last month demonstrate the urgent need to make genuine progress towards a more positive future for both Israelis and Palestinians...," Raab said in a statement.

“The U.K. supports a two-state solution as the best way to deliver a lasting peace.”

Jonathan Lis

Blinken invites Rivlin for a White House visit

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin, in his final meeting before leaving Israel for Cairo as part of his Middle East tour.

The two, according to a statement by Rivlin's office, discussed the latest Israel-Gaza fighting, the rise in antisemitic incidents in the United States and around the world and bilateral relations.

Blinken extended President Joe Biden's invitation for Rivlin to visit the White House before the end of his term in July, which the Israeli president accepted.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel's President Reuven Rivlin meet in Jerusalem, on Wednesday.Credit: Mark Neiman/GPO
Ben Samuels

Blinken to travel to Egypt and Jordan on Wednesday

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday before taking off to visit Cairo and Amman, a day after he met with officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah. After traveling to Cairo, Blinken is set to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah Al-Sissi and Egypt's foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry. He is scheduled to travel to Jordan in the afternoon and meet with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and King Abdullah II.

Ben Samuels

Blinken meets with Lapid

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid on Tuesday evening, Lapid wrote on his Twitter account. Lapid, whose mandate to form a coalition expires next week, said he had thanked Blinken for his and U.S. President Joe Biden's support for Israel and that the two discussed "regional challenges" and the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Ben Samuels

Prominent Palestinian activist meets with Blinken, urges him to halt Israeli arms sale

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with prominent Palestinian rights activist Issa Amro during the U.S. delegation's visit to Ramallah on Tuesday.

Amro said he told Blinken and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr that nothing would change if the United States does not hold Israel accountable, urging Blinken to nix the $735 arms sale to Israel.

Amro added that he told Blinken that U.S. policy under former U.S. President Donald Trump made life more difficult for Palestinians. He implored Blinken to visit Sheikh Jarrah, Gaza and Hebron to see what life looks like for everyday Palestinians, and called on the administration to have direct contact with Palestinians inside Israel.

Amro has been repeatedly arrested by both the Israeli military and Palestinian security forces due to his activism. An Israeli military court convicted him in January of protesting without a permit, obstructing Israeli soldiers' activities in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron and assaulting a Jewish settler, in a case that Amnesty International described as politically motivated.

Amro, 40, founded an activist group that regularly protests against settlement construction in Hebron. Around 1,000 Jewish settlers live there under heavy Israeli military protection among 200,000 Palestinians. Amro previously met with Sen. Bernie Sanders and members of Congress during a visit to Washington in 2017.


Blinken says had productive day in Jerusalem, Ramallah

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday said he heard shared recognition from all sides on the need to address underlying conditions that fuel Israeli-Palestinian conflicts during his visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Blinken told reporters during a press briefing that he had a very productive day in Jerusalem and Ramallah, adding that leaders on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides need to make real improvements in people's lives.


Blinken says U.S. to provide $75 million in assistance to Palestinians

The Biden administration will ask the U.S. Congress for $75 million in development and economic assistance for Palestinians, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Tuesday, and added that Washington will be moving forward with the process to reopen the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem.

Speaking after his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Blinken said the United States would also provide $5.5 million in immediate disaster assistance for Gaza and $32 million to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, today.Credit: POOL/ REUTERS
Ben Samuels

Blinken meets with Gantz

U.S. Secretary of State met with Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, a Department of State statement said.

During the meeting, they discussed the cease-fire Israel and Hamas reached over 11 days of fighting, "and noted their gratitude for partners, including Egypt, that helped to bring it about." They also discussed Iran, and Blinken reiterated his "strong commitment to Israel’s security as well as to the broader U.S.-Israel partnership."

Blinken also emphasized the right of both Israelis and Palestinians "to be able to live in safety and security, as well as enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy."

After the meeting, Gantz tweeted that he presented to Blinken the security establishment's principles of returning Israeli civilians and the bodies of soldiers held hostage by Hamas, "Achieving long-term calm...strengthening the Palestinian Authority and harming terror groups in Gaza." They also discussed "Halting Iran's nuclear progress."     

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jerusalem, today.Credit: Matty Stern / U.S. Embassy Jerusalem
Ben Samuels

Blinken meets with U.S. Embassy staff in Jerusalem

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken visited the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. He thanked the staff for their work during the pandemic and the recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

"We have a strong and abiding commitment to Israel and to its security," he said. "We have a determination to help as effectively as we can deal with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and also start to build back. We’re determined as well to re-engage with the Palestinian Authority and with the Palestinian people.

"And mostly, we want to try to make a turn after the last couple of weeks to something that is more positive, that actually starts to improve the lives of people, whether they’re Palestinians or Israelis." This will be a difficult effort, he added, but the U.S. government is committed to it.

"We want to see a future in which Israelis and Palestinians alike know equal measures of peace, security, justice, and maybe most fundamentally of all, dignity, because that may be one of the most powerful human emotions that binds us all together," he added. "And we have to look out for that and look out for each other and respect the dignity of our fellow human beings, whatever their backgrounds."

Ben Samuels

Blinken meets with Foreign Minister Ashkenazi

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi hosted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem Tuesday, where Ashkenazi thanked his counterpart for the United States' "unwavering support" of Israel's right to defend its citizens from terror, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

Blinken said that he was there "to reaffirm the strong commitment of the United States to Israel’s security, to the partnership between us, to move forward now on dealing with the humanitarian situation in Gaza and also starting to rebuild, to re-engage with the Palestinian community and Palestinian Authority."

Regarding the Palestinians, both of them agreed in establishing a working group to initiate civilian projects in the West Bank, and at the same time to make demands of the Palestinian leadership, including "stopping their requests to international organizations and ending incitement."

During their meeting, Ashkenazi stressed Hamas' responsibility in the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Gaza. The two discussed Gaza aid, and Ashkenazi imparted Israel's position on the matter, according to which the state demands the return of the Israeli civilians and bodies of soldiers held hostage by Hamas, and that the Strip cannot be rehabilitated without a mutual system of oversight and enforcement to prevent the aid from enriching Hamas.

They also discussed regional issues, including the Iranian nuclear threat and the Islamic Republic's destabilizing of the Middle East, the statement said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in Jerusalem, today. Credit: Shlomi Amsalem / Foreign Ministry
Sam Sokol

Report: Pompeo may visit Israel during Blinken trip

In an unprecedented move, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to fly to Israel this week during his successor Anthony Blinken’s first diplomatic trip to the region.

Pompeo intends to attend a retirement party being thrown for outgoing Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, who is stepping down at the end of the month. “I have not heard ever of a former CIA chief coming to Israel to take part in a farewell party for his Israeli counterpart,” a former Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Haaretz.

Pompeo is no stranger to breaking precedent when it comes to Israel. Last November, he became the first secretary of state to visit a West Bank settlement and the Golan Heights.

>> Click here to read the full report

Sam Sokol

Blinken reconfirms Israeli right to self-defense, stresses Gaza reconstruction

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reiterated Washington’s commitment to Israeli security during remarks delivered alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday morning in Jerusalem. 

Addressing reporters, Blinken said that he had been sent by President Joe Biden to “demonstrate the commitment of the United States to Israel's security and start to work toward greater security and reduce tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem” as well as to discuss the reconstruction of Gaza following the recent conflict.

“The United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend against attack,” he asserted.

Blinken also said that he had come to “rebuild relationships with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian authority,” a likely reference to the breakdown of relations between Ramallah and Washington during the Trump administration.

Citing “intense behind the scenes discussions” between Jerusalem and Washington which “helped produce the ceasefire,” Blinken said that it is now to “build on it,” stating that this “must start with the recognition that losses on both sides were profound.”

In order to prevent a “return to violence, we have to address a larger set of humanitarian challenges,” he continued, specifying the necessity to rebuild the Gaza Strip while making sure that Hamas would not benefit from reconstruction assistance.

Blinken also called recognition of the “need to expand opportunities” for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, including investment in order to “foster a more stable environment.”

Thanking Netanyahu for condemning Arab-Jewish violence within Israel, Blinken reiterated President Biden’s condemnations of recent antisemitic attacks in the United States, calling them “despicable.”

Jonathan Lis

Netanyahu: Hope U.S. won't return to old Iran nuclear deal

Blinken and Netanyahu held a joint press conference in Jerusalem today where both reasserted their shared commitment to "common goals of peace, security and prosperity."

Netanyahu thanked President Biden for "firmly supporting Israel's right to self-defense" during the recent war with Hamas. He credited Blinken for having supported the development and procurement of Israel's Iron Dome.

He also warned that "if Hamas breaks the calm and attacks Israel, our response will be very powerful."

Netanyahu then addressed the revival of the Iran nuclear deal, saying "I hope that the United States will not go back to the old [agreement]. We believe that the deal paves the way for Iran to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons with international legitimacy."

He added that "Israel will always reserve the right to fight regimes committed to getting weapons of mass destruction."

Netanyahu discussed improving humanitarian conditions in Gaza and economic growth in the West Bank with international cooperation and participation, while reasserting Israel's demand for the return of bodies of Israeli soldiers and civilians who are being held captive by Hamas.

Regarding a formal peace agreement with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said that "[he] couldn't agree more with President Biden" that peace will not be achieved until Israel is recognized as "an independent Jewish state."

Blinken meets with Netanyahu in Jerusalem

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

Blinken meets Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Tuesday.Credit: Matty Stern / U.S. Embassy Jerusalem
Ben Samuels

Secretary Blinken's Tuesday Schedule

10:00 A.M. Secretary Blinken meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

11:30 A.M. Secretary Blinken delivers joint statements with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

12:40 P.M. Secretary Blinken holds a Meet and Greet with the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

1:25 P.M. Secretary Blinken meets with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in Jerusalem.

2:10 P.M. Secretary Blinken meets with Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem.

3:55 P.M. Secretary Blinken meets with President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah, the West Bank.

5:00 P.M. Secretary Blinken delivers joint statements with President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the West Bank.

5:30 P.M. Secretary Blinken meets with Palestinian Civil Society Leaders in Ramallah, the West Bank.

7:30 P.M. Secretary Blinken holds a press briefing in Jerusalem.

Jonathan Lis

Blinken lands in Israel to meet with Netanyahu, other officials

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on Tuesday in a bid to consolidate the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and ensure a long-term cessation of violence in the volatile Middle East.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan.Credit: Matty Stern / U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

Blinken is expected to travel between Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo and Amman in an effort to create a mechanism to deliver aid to residents of the Gaza Strip without the involvement of Hamas. His visit will come after the Defense Ministry announced on Monday evening that humanitarian aid would be allowed into Gaza as well as the expansion of Gaza's fishing zone.

The secretary of state is set to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, and other senior officials on Tuesday morning, and will later meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.

Blinken will later fly to Cairo to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, and then travel to Amman to meet with King Abdullah.

>>Click here to read the full report