Blinken: Clearly Hamas response has non-starters but there is still space to continue efforts

On his fifth visit since the start of the war, U.S. Secretary of State says effort to secure an extended truce and the release of hostages held captive by Hamas, critical and ongoing

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that Hamas' proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza has clear "non-starters" but leaves a space for an agreement to be reached.
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(Shmulik Davidpur)

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He voiced the U.S. concerns for the safety of innocent civilians in Gaza. "Israel has taken important steps,” he said adding that more aid is now flowing into the Strip. “As a result, more aid is flowing into more places in Gaza than ever since October 7.”
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אנתוני בלינקן
אנתוני בלינקן
Antony Blinken
(Shumlik Davidpur)
"The daily toll on innocent civilians remains too high," he said. He said Israel should open the Erez border crossing to allow more aid into northern Gaza, improve coordination with humanitarian groups and it must make sure that aid delivery is not blocked from reaching Gaza for any reason, alluding to the protesters who had blocked aid truck passing through the Kerem Shalom border crossing calling for all aid to be halted until hostages are freed.
"We urge Israel to do more to help civilians, knowing full well that it faces an enemy that would never hold itself to those standards," he said describing the cynical use of civilians as human shields including the hostages, and the threats to wipe Israel off the map.
"That's why we made clear that Israel is fully justified in confronting Hamas and other terrorist organizations and that's why the United States has done more than any other country to support Israel's right to ensure October 7 never happens again." Still, he said that the events that dehumanized Israelis in the Hamas massacre, cannot be a reason to dehumanize others. Gazans deserve a normal life as well he said. "We must not lose sight of our common humanity."
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פליטים פלסטינים עוזבים מחאן יונס לרפיח עזה
פליטים פלסטינים עוזבים מחאן יונס לרפיח עזה
Palestinians leave Khan Younis after Israel warned them of the danger to their safety amid the fighting there
(Photo: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)
The secretary said he spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about a clear path for a Palestinian State. Peace would mean “an Israel that’s fully integrated into the region, with normal relations with key countries including Saudi Arabia…Alongside a concrete, time-bound and irreversible path to a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel, with the necessary security assurances.”
Blinken said in his talks in Saudi Arabia, he heard from Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman that his country would require calm in Gaza and a path to a Palestinian state for normalization with Israel to proceed forward. Earlier, a statement from the Saudi Foreign Ministry said that it was made clear to the United States that there would be no diplomatic relations with Israel unless an independent Palestinian state is recognized on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem and Israeli "aggression" on the Gaza Strip stops.
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אנטוני בלינקן ויורש העצר הסעודי מוחמד בן סלמאן
אנטוני בלינקן ויורש העצר הסעודי מוחמד בן סלמאן
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
(Photo: Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS)
In his meeting with Netanyahu, the secretary said he raised his concerns about actions and rhetoric, including from officials who undercut international support.
Secretary Blinken said that the UN is as it must, investigating the participation of UNRWA employees in the October 7 massacre adding that the functions that UNRWA fulfils as an organization in Gaza are critical.
About an Israeli offensive on Rafah which Netanyahu said would begin, the secretary said Israel has the responsibility and obligation to ensure its security but any military operation it undertakes needs to put civilians first in mind. Especially in Rafah where there are 1.2 or 4 million people many displaced from other areas in the Strip.
In a press conference earlier, Netanyahu said Israel was forging ahead in Gaza and that victory was within reach. He said Hamas must be eliminated or another massacre would be only a matter of time.
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