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Blinken ends newest Mideast mission after new Israeli snub of proposed Gaza ceasefire plan

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TEL AVIV, Israel — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken left the Center East on Thursday with public divisions between the US and Israel at maybe their worst stage since Israel’s struggle in opposition to Hamas in Gaza started in October.

Wrapping up a four-nation Mideast journey — his fifth to the area because the battle erupted — Blinken was returning to Washington after getting a digital slap within the face from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who mentioned the struggle would proceed till Israel is totally victorious and appeared to reject outright a response from Hamas to a proposed cease-fire plan.

Relations between Israel and its important worldwide ally, the US, have been tense for months, however Netanyahu’s public dismissal of a plan the U.S. says has advantage, no less than as a place to begin for additional negotiation, highlighted the divide.

But Blinken and different U.S. officers mentioned they remained optimistic that progress may very well be made on their important objectives of enhancing humanitarian circumstances for Palestinians civilians, securing the discharge of hostages held by Hamas, making ready for a post-conflict Gaza and stopping the struggle from spreading.

Officers mentioned Blinken’s optimism was based mostly on his first 4 post-Oct. 7 journeys to the Center East. None of these visits resulted in speedy seen successes, however they introduced restricted however vital enhancements within the supply of humanitarian help and a weeklong cease-fire in November through which scores of hostages have been launched.

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“Clearly there are issues that Hamas despatched again which can be absolute non-starters,” Blinken mentioned of the response the militant group delivered Tuesday to a cease-fire and hostage launch proposal that was endorsed final month by Egypt, Qatar, the U.S. and Israel itself.

“However, on the similar time, we see area to proceed to pursue an settlement,” Blinken mentioned late Wednesday. “And this stuff are all the time negotiations. It’s not flipping a lightweight change. It’s not ‘sure’ or ‘no.’ There’s invariably forwards and backwards.”

Shortly earlier than Blinken spoke, although, Netanyahu took direct goal on the Hamas response, calling it “delusional” and vowing that Israel would combat on to realize “absolute victory” over the militant group, it doesn’t matter what.

Compounding Blinken’s dilemma, Netanyahu additionally appeared to dismiss considerations from the U.S. and others about increasing Israel’s army operations in southern Gaza, notably in Rafah, the realm on the Egyptian border to which over 1,000,000 Palestinians have fled.

“On all of my earlier visits right here and just about daily in between, we have now pressed Israel in concrete methods to strengthen civilian safety, to get extra help to those that want it. And over the previous 4 months, Israel has taken necessary steps to do exactly that,” he mentioned. “And but … the every day toll that its army operations proceed to tackle harmless civilians stays too excessive.”

Netanyahu additionally referred to as for the dismantlement of UNRWA, the UN company for Palestinian refugees, which is the principle distributor of worldwide help to Gaza, due to its alleged hostility towards Israel and allegations {that a} dozen of its workers took half within the Oct. 7 Hamas assault that ignited the struggle.

The U.S. and different donor nations have suspended new help to UNRWA pending completion of a U.N. investigation into the allegations, however Blinken has nonetheless mentioned the company’s function is vital to getting desperately wanted humanitarian provides into Gaza.

Blinken appealed to Netanyahu and different Israelis nonetheless reeling from the Hamas assault to not permit vengeance to dictate their continued response.

“Israelis have been dehumanized in probably the most horrific manner on October 7,” he mentioned. “And the hostages have been dehumanized daily since. However that can not be a license to dehumanize others.”

Blinken got here to Israel simply hours after the receipt of the Hamas counter-proposal to the framework cease-fire settlement put ahead late final month. That proposal features a three-phase plan to de-escalate the battle.

In Qatar on Tuesday, each Qatar’s prime minister and Blinken mentioned the proposal had promise as a place to begin for additional negotiation.

And Blinken talked up Saudi Arabia’s curiosity in normalizing relations with Israel, offered the Gaza struggle ends and the Palestinians are given a transparent, credible and time-bound pathway to an impartial state.

“We stay decided as properly to pursue a diplomatic path to a simply and lasting peace, and safety for all within the area, and notably for Israel,” Blinken mentioned in Tel Aviv.

Nonetheless, Netanyahu is against the creation of a Palestinian state and has mentioned Israel will preserve open-ended safety management over Gaza.



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