Death toll from Israeli airstrikes on Gaza reaches 253: medics_china

Blinken off to Mideast to push peace talks after Gaza truce

People in Gaza are still assessing the damage caused by days of rocket fire exchanges between Israel and Palestinian militants, which ended with a ceasefire late last week.

The ceasefire that came into effect on Friday has been held so far, but it does not address the underlying issue.

A pool reporter on Blinken's plane said it landed at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport. He was welcomed at the tarmac by Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and other officials.

The administration wanted to free the United States from the uncontrollable conflicts in the region and focus on competition with China and climate change.

He begins his visit to Israel.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed the bombing campaign had killed "more than 200 terrorists" in Gaza. Netanyahu faces growing criticism from Israelis for prematurely ending the attack without forcing it to stop the Palestinian rocket attack or hitting the ruler of Gaza's radical Hamas. doing.

For weeks now, tensions have been on the rise in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in the wake of legal action by Jewish organizations trying to push 28 Palestinian families out of their homes. Police briefly clashed with protesters at Al-Aqsa on Friday, hours after the cease-fire came into effect.

The site has seen several outbreaks of Israeli-Palestinian violence over the years and was the epicenter of the 2000 Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

Adding to the tensions, an Israeli soldier and a civilian were stabbed and wounded in east Jerusalem on Monday before police shot and killed the assailant in what they described as a terrorist attack. "During his trip, Secretary Blinken will meet with Israeli leaders about our ironclad commitment to Israel's security", Biden said in a statement. The Palestinians have long objected to that language, saying it undermines the rights of Israel's own Palestinian minority.

"But now, as the president said, I think it's incumbent upon all of us to try to make the turn to start to build something more positive, and what that means at heart is that Palestinians and Israelis alike have to know in their day in and day out lives equal measures of opportunity, of security, of dignity", Blinken said. Abbas, who called off the first Palestinian elections in 15 years last month when it appeared his fractured Fatah movement would suffer an embarrassing defeat, is seen by many Palestinians as having lost all legitimacy. A crowd of worshippers at Al-Aqsa chanted against his Palestinian Authority and in support of Hamas on Friday.

Shoukry discussed with Abbas ways to revive the peace process and to provide all necessary support and assistance to Palestinian people.

He will then travel on to neighbouring Egypt and Jordan.

The administration had been roundly criticized for its perceived hands-off initial response to the deadly violence, including from Democratic allies in Congress who were demanding it take a tougher line on Israel and its response to rocket attacks from Palestinian militant groups in Gaza.

Biden announced his visit and Blinken said he would work with local partners on "coordinated global efforts to ensure immediate assistance to Gaza".

Blinken on Sunday reaffirmed USA support for a two-state solution as the only way to provide hope to Israelis and Palestinians that they can live "with equal measures of security, of peace and dignity".

He said it was not the right time to resume negotiations immediately, but that measures could be taken to destroy hundreds of homes in Gaza and fix the damage caused by Israeli airstrikes that damaged infrastructure.



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