US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is planning to head off to the Middle East in the coming days to hold talks with foreign ministers of Israel, Palestine and other countries, Spokesperson for the US State Department Ned Price said in a statement on Thursday following Blinken’s phone call with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
"The Foreign Minister welcomed Secretary Blinken’s planned travel to the region, where the Secretary will meet with Israeli, Palestinian, and regional counterparts in the coming days to discuss recovery efforts and working together to build better futures for Israelis and Palestinians," the statement reads.
Price noted that the chief US and Israeli diplomats had two phone calls on Thursday. They "expressed their appreciation for Egypt’s mediation efforts, and the Secretary noted that he would continue to remain in close touch with his Egyptian counterpart and other regional stakeholders." "I will be traveling to the region in the coming days and look forward to meeting the Foreign Minister and other Israeli, Palestinian, and regional leaders," Blinken wrote on his Twitter page, TASS reports.
Israel and Hamas separately announced a ceasefire which entered into force on Friday at 2 a.m. local time.
The exchange of rocket fire between Israel and the Gaza Strip began on May 10 and was triggered by riots at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police erupted after an Israeli court had ruled to evict several Palestinian families from the city’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and hand the property over to Jewish settlers. According to latest data, 232 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and at least 12 Israelis have been killed.