By Abdul Raouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week will discuss the situation in the beleaguered Gaza Strip with members of a visiting U.S. delegation, according to a Thursday statement released by Netanyahu’s office.
The prime minister, the statement reads, is “looking forward to discussing the Gaza issue next week with U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, [U.S. President Donald] Trump adviser Jared Kushner and Washington's ambassador to Israel, David Friedman”.
It also asserts that Netanyahu is looking forward to discussing means of advancing prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the Arab world in general.
On Tuesday, the White House announced that Kushner and Greenblatt both planned to visit Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt next week with a view to discussing the situation in Gaza — and efforts to restart stalled Palestine-Israel peace talks — with officials of the three countries.
Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli/Egyptian blockade that has gutted its economy and which continues to deprive its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.
What’s more, since March 30, the eastern Gaza Strip has been the scene of ongoing Palestinians demonstrations against both the blockade of Gaza and Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian land in the West Bank.
Israeli troops deployed near the Gaza-Israel fence have responded to the demonstrations with teargas and gunfire, leaving 128 Palestinians dead since the demonstrations began two and a half months ago.
On Wednesday, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for “international protection” of the Palestinian people, with 120 countries voting in favor of the resolution, eight voting against and 45 abstaining.
Early this month, the same draft resolution was vetoed by the U.S. at the UN Security Council.