Blinken in Israel to push Gaza ceasefire deal


Blinken in Israel to push Gaza ceasefire deal


Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on Monday night amid the Biden administration's efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza and avoid a wider war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Shortly after touching down at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport, Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

The meeting also included Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Derek Chollet, a counselor to the U.S. Department of State.

According to a U.S. readout, Blinken "reiterated that the United States and other world leaders will stand behind the comprehensive proposal outlined by President Biden that would lead to an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of all hostages, and a significant and sustained increase in humanitarian assistance for distribution throughout Gaza."

Blinken was said to have emphasized the importance of preventing the conflict from expanding further, claiming that the proposed deal with Hamas "would unlock the possibility of calm along Israel’s northern border and further integration with countries in the region"

The Secretary updated Netanyahu on plans for the "post-conflict period, emphasizing the importance of those efforts to providing long-term peace, security, and stability to Israelis and Palestinians alike."

Washington's top diplomat also underscored the Biden administration's "ironclad commitment to Israel’s security, including through ensuring October 7 can never be repeated," according to the readout.

Following the private encounter, an extended meeting took place with the participation of Netanyahu's chief of staff and military secretary, as well as political advisor Ofir Fleck and Gal Hirsch, the Israeli government's point man on missing and kidnapped citizens.

From the American side, the extended meeting was attended by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf, Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues Lise Grande and Stephanie Hallett, the number two of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

The visit marked Blinken's eighth trip to the Middle East region since the start of the Israel-Hamas war last October.

The top American diplomat visited Egypt on Monday, and will also stop in Jordan and Qatar during his visit to the region, which will wrap up on Wednesday.

In Cairo, he met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

“The Secretary will discuss with partners the need to reach a ceasefire agreement that secures the release of all hostages. He will emphasize the importance of Hamas accepting the proposal on the table, which is nearly identical to one Hamas endorsed last month,” according to a statement by State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller.

“The Secretary will discuss how the ceasefire proposal would benefit both Israelis and Palestinians. He will underscore that it would alleviate suffering in Gaza, enable a massive surge in humanitarian assistance, and allow Palestinians to return to their neighborhoods. 

"It would unlock the possibility of achieving calm along Israel’s northern border—so both displaced Israeli and Lebanese families can return to their homes—and set the conditions for further integration between Israel and its Arab neighbors, strengthening Israel’s long-term security and improving stability across the region. The Secretary will also continue to reiterate the need to prevent the conflict from escalating further."

While in Jordan, Blinken is scheduled to attend a conference on the humanitarian response to Gaza, co-hosted by Jordan, Egypt and the United Nations, according to the State Department.

Prior to his Mideast swing, Blinken accompanied President Joe Biden on his trip to Normandy and Paris, France for commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day and for a state visit. Blinken will also be with the president in Apulia, Italy from June 13-14 for the G7 Leaders' Summit.


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