Blinken in Jordan to Solidify Mideast Cease-fire Truce

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Jordan Wednesday on the last leg of a Middle East tour for a meeting with King Abdullah to solidify the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.Blinken arrived in Jordan, where half the population of 10 million are of Palestinian origin, after meeting earlier in the day in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at the Heliopolis Presidential Palace, May 26, 2021.Egypt was heavily involved in achieving the cease-fire in the recent conflict.His visit to Jordan and Egypt came one day after expressing support for Israel’s security and announcing reconstruction aid for Gaza.“As you know, 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,” Blinken told reporters Tuesday.Palestinian Shaban Esleem inspects the rubbles of his bookstore which was destroyed in Israeli airstrikes during the Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza City, May 24, 2021.Earlier in the day, the secretary of state underscored Israel’s right to defend itself as he visited Jerusalem as part of an effort to build on a cease-fire.Speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blinken said that both Israel and the Palestinians experienced “profound” losses during the fighting, and that there is a lot of work ahead to restore hope, respect and trust.”Casualties are often reduced to numbers, but behind every number is an individual human being — a daughter, a son, a father, a mother, a grandparent, a best friend,” Blinken said. “And as the Talmud teaches, to lose a life is to lose the whole world, whether that life is Palestinian or Israeli.”Blinken also pledged help to expand economic opportunities for Palestinians both in Gaza and in the West Bank, saying that doing so would provide for a more stable environment that will benefit both Palestinians and Israelis.Netanyahu thanked the United States for its show of support, while warning the militants to maintain the cease-fire.”If Hamas breaks the calm and attacks Israel, our response will be very powerful,” he said.