Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday told ABC News it was "critical" that Israel and Hamas agree to a cease-fire, and now that it is in place, the United States can "make a pivot to building something more positive" in Gaza.
The cease-fire went into effect on Friday, after 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas. More than 240 people were killed in Gaza and a dozen more in Israel, with dozens of children among the victims. Israeli airstrikes leveled buildings across Gaza and already-stressed health facilities are still struggling to care for the injured.
Blinken said the Biden administration wants a two-state solution and the first step in getting there is to deal with "the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza. Then reconstruction, rebuilding what's been lost. And critically, engaging both sides in trying to start to make real improvements in the lives of people so that Israelis and Palestinians can live with equal measures of security, of peace, and dignity."
It's "vitally important" that Palestinians "feel hope and have opportunity and can live in security just as it is for Israelis, and there should be equal measures," Blinken added. The militant group Hamas holds power in Gaza, and has brought "nothing but ruin to the Palestinian people," he said. In order to fund Gaza's rebuilding efforts without getting any money to Hamas, Blinken said the Biden administration will rely on "trusted, independent parties that can help do the reconstruction and the development, not some quasi-government authority."