March 2, 2024

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US Secretary Blinken returns from Middle East without cease-fire in Gaza

US Secretary Blinken returns from Middle East without cease-fire in Gaza

The US secretary of state will board a plane in Tel Aviv, Israel on Thursday, her diplomatic trip to the Middle East to be little fruitful.Image by Mark Schieffelbein/AP

Public tensions between the US and Israel escalated on Wednesday when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately dismissed a Hamas ceasefire proposal as “crazy”. According to Netanyahu, Israel will fight until it achieves 'total victory'.

October 7 was Blinken's fifth visit to the region since the start of the war. The US, Qatar and Egypt have agreed to a ceasefire that would allow the release of Israeli hostages. In its proposal, Hamas demanded an end to the war, the withdrawal of Israeli troops and a hostage exchange for thousands of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

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Recommends Peter Gieson D Volkskrant About the European Union and international cooperation. Previously he was a correspondent in France. He is the author of many books.

Israel wants to keep fighting

For Israel, an end to the war is unacceptable. The country wants to continue fighting until Hamas is defeated. But despite Netanyahu's public denials, Israeli officials said further talks could continue. In a radio interview on Thursday, Israeli Minister Miki Zohar said, “We have to make a deal to get the hostages back. But not at any price. For example, we will not stop the war.' Hamas also appears to be still willing to talk.A Hamas delegation traveled to the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Thursday to continue talks.

According to Blinken, under US pressure Israel has improved civilian security and increased humanitarian aid. “The daily toll of military operations against innocent civilians is still very high,” Blinken said. At least 13 people were killed Thursday in an Israeli attack in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip. Blinken said he was concerned about a military operation in Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have fled after bombings in the northern and central Gaza Strip.

A spokesperson for the International Rescue Committee also expressed its concern. “Unless they are killed in the fighting, Palestinian children, women and men risk dying of hunger or disease,” he said. “There will be no safe place for Palestinians anymore.” Egypt has said that a 1979 peace accord with Israel would be at risk if an Israeli ground offensive drives Palestinians across the border into Egypt.

Worried about Rafa

A US State Department spokesman said on Thursday that the ill-considered operation in Rafah was a “catastrophe”. “We would not support something like this without serious and credible planning,” a spokesman said. According to the spokesman, the US has not seen any concrete Israeli plans to launch an attack on Gaza.

During Blinken's visit, the UN, which organizes humanitarian aid for the Palestinians, Netanyahu called for the agency's elimination, UNRWA. According to Israel, about ten employees were involved in the October 7 massacre. Following the allegations, the United States, the Netherlands and other donor countries suspended their support for UNRWA. Still, Blinken said the organization is crucial to the distribution of humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip.

Despite his optimistic appearance, Anthony Blinken returned to the United States on Thursday without any concrete results.

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