Blinken Departs Middle East After Crammed Visit
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up his two-day visit to the Middle East Wednesday evening, after meeting regional leaders in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo and Amman in an effort to shore up the Israeli-Hamas cease-fire reached last week. During his trip, the US’s top diplomat made several announcements of major policy changes, such as the reopening of the US Consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem, the planned replenishing of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, and the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid and economic assistance to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. On Wednesday, Qatar’s foreign minister pledged an additional $500 million in reconstruction funds to Gaza, joining a similar Egyptian commitment made last week. During his stay, Blinken insisted Washington would ensure that the massive amounts of money would not be diverted by Hamas for rearmament. On Wednesday, the group’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, promised not to skim off the top of international assistance.