Democrats urge Blinken to press Israel on Gaza reconstruction

17 Democratic Senators write to Secretary of State, urge him to press Israel to allow materials for reconstruction and humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
State Department Photo by Freddie Everett

17 Democratic Senators have written to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging him to press Israel to allow into the Gaza Strip materials needed for reconstruction and humanitarian aid, Barak Ravid of Axios reported on Tuesday. The effort is led by Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

The US, Egypt, Qatar and others have committed to rebuilding Gaza as well as providing humanitarian aid but Israel is threatening to hold up that process.

Israel has told the US and Egypt, according to Ravid’s report, that it won't allow the reconstruction to begin unless progress is made on securing the release of Israeli citizens held by Hamas as well as the bodies of Israeli soldiers.

In the letter shared with Axios, the Senators wrote that the Biden administration should insist on the reopening of two border crossings to Gaza "so that critical humanitarian personnel can enter and that fuel and building materials can be brought in to address the growing needs of the civilian population."

The senators called on Blinken to ask Israel to lift restrictions on the movement of Palestinian Arabs for medical treatment or to visit relatives. They also called for US funding to humanitarian efforts in Gaza to be restored to pre-Trump levels and urged the administration to appoint an ambassador to Israel, consul general in Jerusalem to coordinate with the Palestinians, and USAID chief of mission.

"In order for this ceasefire to be durable and avoid a renewal of the cycle of violence, it is critical that we improve the dire conditions in Gaza that only contribute to despair and further fuel extremism," the Senators stressed in the letter.

During his visit to Israel last week, Blinken urged Israel to move forward with permitting large-scale aid to the Gaza Strip and other steps designed to “give hope” to Gazans. Blinken said these concerns trump Israel’s years-long effort to secure the release of several civilians and the remains of two IDF soldiers being held by Hamas in Gaza.

“There is a desperate need in Gaza to give hope – that is the only way to prevent another war,” he said.

In remarks made after the latest ceasefire in Gaza went into effect, President Joe Biden said the US is committed to working with the United Nations and other international organizations to provide humanitarian support to Gaza.

“I believe that Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy. My administration will continue our quiet, relentless diplomacy toward that end,” said the President.

“I believe we have a genuine opportunity to make progress and I’m committed to working for it,” added Biden.