The war between Israel and Hamas: Blinken returns to the Middle East with the ceasefire plan remaining in balance

Tel Aviv (AFP) – US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken The two returned to the Middle East as suggested Ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas Hanging in the balance after saving the four Israeli hostages being held in Gaza In a military raid and in the wake of recent unrest in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

With no firm public response yet from Hamas or Israel to the proposal they received 10 days ago, Blinken began his eighth visit to the region since the attack. The conflict began in October By meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the main mediator with the armed Hamas movement, and then holding talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Blinken once again called on Hamas to accept the plan, which he said had broad international support.

“If you want a ceasefire, put pressure on Hamas to say yes,” he told reporters before leaving Cairo on a trip that will take him to Israel, Jordan and Qatar. Blinken said that Israel had accepted the proposal, although Netanyahu did not say so directly.

“I know that there are those who are pessimistic about the expectations,” Blinken said, placing the responsibility squarely on Hamas. “This is understandable. Hamas continues to show extraordinary cynicism in its actions, a lack of concern not only for the well-being and security of Israelis but also of Palestinians.”

Blinken said the plan on the table is the “best way” to reach a ceasefire, release the remaining hostages and improve regional security.

Palestinians look at the effects of the Israeli bombing on the Nuseirat refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Saturday, June 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

While President Joe Biden, Blinken, and other US officials praised the hostage rescue operation, the operation resulted in the death of a large number of Palestinian civilians and the wounding of others. It may complicate the ceasefire process By encouraging Israel and strengthening Hamas’ determination to continue fighting the war it started with its attack on Israel on October 7.

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“It is difficult to say how Hamas will approach this particular operation and what it will do to determine whether it will say yes or no,” Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, said on Sunday. “We hope that with enough of a chorus, and the international community speaking with one voice, that Hamas will be able to get to the right answer,” Sullivan told ABC’s “This Week.”

In his talks with Sisi, Blinken also discussed plans for post-conflict governance and reconstruction in Gaza, after the massive destruction that occurred there.

“It is necessary to have a plan, and that must include security, and it must include governance, and it must include reconstruction,” Blinken said.

People protest against the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and demand the release of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 8, 2024. Israel said on Saturday that it had rescued four hostages who were kidnapped in the Hamas-led attack on October 7. October, the largest recovery operation since the start of the war in Gaza.  (AP Photo/Ohad Zwegenberg)

People protest against the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and call for the release of hostages held by the Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Andrei Kozlov, 27, kidnapped from Israel in a Hamas-led attack on October 7, 2023, arrives by helicopter at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel, Saturday, June 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Tomer Appelbaum)(AP Photo) Press/Tomer Appelbaum)

Andrei Kozlov, 27, kidnapped from Israel in a Hamas-led attack on October 7, 2023, arrives by helicopter at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel, Saturday, June 8, 2024. Israel says it has rescued four hostages in Gaza who were kidnapped in an attack Led by Hamas on October 7. (AP Photo/Tomer Appelbaum)(AP Photo/Tomer Appelbaum)

Netanyahu and his government have resisted calls for any “day after” plan that would prevent Israel from having some form of security presence in the region. Blinken said he would urge Israel to find acceptable alternatives.

He said: “It would be very good for Israel to present its own ideas on this matter, and I will talk to the government about this issue.” “But one way or another, we have to have these plans, we have to put them into action, and we have to be ready to go if we want to benefit from the ceasefire.”

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The three-phase ceasefire plan calls for the release of more hostages and a temporary cessation of hostilities that will last as long as it takes to negotiate the second phase, which aims for the release of all hostages and the “complete withdrawal of armed forces.” Israeli forces from Gaza” and “a permanent cessation of hostilities,” according to a resolution drafted by the United States and presented to the United Nations Security Council. The third phase provides for the reconstruction of Gaza.

The Security Council is scheduled to vote on Monday afternoon on the resolution welcoming the proposal and urging Hamas to accept it.

But Hamas may not be the only obstacle.

Although the deal was described as an Israeli initiative and thousands of Israelis demonstrated in support of it, the… Netanyahu has expressed doubtsConsidering that what was presented publicly is inaccurate and that Israel is still committed to destroying Hamas.

Netanyahu’s far-right allies threatened to collapse his government if he implemented the plan. Benny GantzPopular centrist, On Sunday he resigned from the three-member war cabinet After saying he would do so if the Prime Minister did not draft a A new plan for post-war Gaza Following the hostage rescue, Netanyahu urged him not to step down.

Blinken has met with Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Galant, Gantz and Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid on almost all of his previous trips to Israel. Blinken is expected to meet with Gantz on Tuesday, officials said.

Despite Blinken’s visits to the region about once a month since the war began, the conflict has continued with more than 37,120 Palestinians killed, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its statistics. Hamas and other militants killed about 1,200 people in the October 7 attack, most of them civilians, and took about 250 people hostage.

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The war has severely disrupted the flow of water Food, medicine and other supplies For the Palestinians in Gaza who face… Widespread hunger. United Nations agencies say that more than a million people in the region may be exposed to this phenomenon Highest level of starvation By mid-July.

In Jordan, Blinken will participate in an emergency international conference on improving the flow of aid to Gaza.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza on https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

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