Blinken Meets Leaders of Egypt and Jordan on Rebuilding Gaza

AMMAN, Jordan — A fragile cease-fire remains intact, but the work to rebuild after the short but deadly war between Israel and Hamas has just begun, the top American diplomat said Wednesday at the close of a Middle East trip intended to keep simmering tensions from erupting anew.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said he was returning to Washington from the brief but urgent visit with new promises to help fund a massive humanitarian and reconstruction effort in the Gaza Strip, pockets of which were decimated during 11 days of hostilities between Hamas, the militant group that controls the area, and Israel.

Following meetings with the leaders of Egypt and Jordan — two Arab neighbors of Israel that have influence with Palestinians in Israel and in the occupied West Bank — Mr. Blinken said he would reach out to other nations in the region “to ensure we all contribute to recovery, stability, and the reduction of tensions.”

He said Egypt had offered to contribute $500 million to rebuild Gaza, and noted Jordan’s “vital role” in working with the Palestinian Authority — Hamas’ political rival — in the West Bank.

He also urged the United States to revitalize a years-dormant effort to negotiate a lasting peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians, noting Washington’s traditionally “pivotal role” in such efforts.

Mr. Blinken has played down expectations that new peace talks could be on the horizon and, over two days of diplomatic talks he generally steered clear of predicting that the cease-fire would hold.

Instead, he insisted on focusing on supplying emergency aid to Gaza — where Israeli bombardment forced at least 77,000 people from their homes, and cut off water and electricity to hundreds of thousands more — as a first, if halting, step to a broader stability.

“That’s where you try to build hope as well as opportunity,” Mr. Blinken told journalists. “And that, both in a literal sense when it comes to infrastructure and in a broader sense, is the foundation, upon which maybe we can build something even better.”

“It’s going to take some time to see the effect, to see the impact,” he said, “but it is moving forward.”

Rana Sweis contributed reporting from Amman, Jordan.

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