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Middle East

U.S. working 'intensively' to end Israeli-Palestinian hostilities - Blinken

3 minute read

COPENHAGEN, May 17 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday the United States was working "intensively" to end violence between Israel and Palestinian militants, and rejected suggestions that Washington was blocking diplomacy at the United Nations.

Blinken also said during a visit to Denmark that he had not seen any evidence provided by Israel on suggestions that Hamas was operating out of a building housing media outlets - including the U.S.-based Associated Press - which was destroyed in an Israeli missile strike at the weekend.

He said it would be up to others to weigh on intelligence matters.

Israel said its fighter jets struck a multi-storey building "which contained military assets belonging to the intelligence offices of the Hamas terror organization."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS broadcaster on Sunday that Israel would provide such proof through "intelligence services". It was not clear whether Israel provided that to the United States.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a news conference following meetings at the Danish Foreign Ministry, Eigtved's Warehouse, in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 17, 2021. Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS

Blinken said the United States was working round the clock to help put an end to the violence but gave few details. read more

"We're not standing in the way of diplomacy, on the contrary we are exercising it virtually non-stop," Blinken told a news conference with Denmark's foreign minister when asked why the United States had blocked a U.N. Security Council statement condemning Israel's military response.

Washington, a strong ally of Israel, has been isolated at the United Nations over its objection to a public statement by the Security Council because it worries it could harm diplomacy behind the scenes.

Blinken said Israel has the right to defend itself, but that he had been alarmed that journalists and medical workers had been put at risk, in particular after Israel destroyed the tower block in Gaza housing a number of media outlets. read more

The United States has requested additional details from Israel regarding the attack, Blinken said.

"Shortly after the strike we did request additional details regarding the justification for it. I wouldn’t want to weigh in on intelligence matters in this forum, it’s not my place. I will leave it to others to characterize if any information has been shared and our assessment of that information," he said.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Editing by Toby Chopra

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