Blinken: US coordinating multinational effort to get maritime aid corridor into Gaza up and running

Washington is working to coordinate a multinational effort to set up a maritime aid corridor into Gaza, says US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, part of a US strategy of “flooding the zone” with humanitarian assistance.

Blinken held a video conference earlier with officials from Cyprus, Britain, the UAE, Qatar, the European Union and the United Nations to discuss getting the new route up and running.

The US was also working with Israel on the corridor, also supported by Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Canada, but it would take time to establish the corridor, Blinken tells reporters at the State Department.

“I want to emphasize it is a complement to, not a substitute for, other ways of getting humanitarian assistance into Gaza, and in particular overland routes remain the most critical way to get assistance in and then to people who need it,” Blinken says.

Blinken says Israel needs to open as many land crossings into Gaza as possible, noting that shipments into northern Gaza began this week through a crossing known as the 96th gate. The US military has also dropped meals into the strip from aircraft.

“Overland routes remain the most critical way to get assistance in and then to people who need it, but this will help close the gap,” he says

But Blinken took a distance from EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, whom he met earlier in the day and who said Tuesday at the United Nations that Israel was using food as a “war arm.”

“Of course the Israelis have been not only allowing food in, they have been working to make sure that it gets in and gets to people who need it,” Blinken says.

“The bottom line is we need to see… flooding the zone when it comes to humanitarian assistance for Gaza,” Blinken says, adding that Washington continues to push for a deal that would see a temporary pause in fighting and the release of remaining hostages held in Gaza.

Blinken says there is a “strong proposal on the table right now for a [temporary] ceasefire and the question is whether Hamas will take it.” Washington, he says is “intensely engaged every single day, every single hour to achieve a ceasefire.”

He also says the US is committed “to make sure that Israel has the means to defend itself.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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