Secretary of State Antony Blinken returned from a seven-day trip to the Middle East, where he visited nine countries to discuss the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas and conflicts that threaten a broader regional war.
According to his spokesman, Matt Miller, Arab countries are willing to partner with the United States on short- and long-term solutions for Palestinians in Gaza, but only if Israel is willing to join.
“We traveled to nine countries and met with leaders in each of them, and we were able to secure agreements with all of these Arab partners, as well as with Turkey, that they were willing to have those talks, and they were willing to have those talks.” Coordination with the United States and were prepared to take real steps to improve the lives of the Palestinian people in Gaza and consider how to rebuild Gaza and establish Palestinian-led governance in Gaza.” Miller told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Friday.
Miller continued: “But they were only willing to do so if they had a partner on the other side in Israel and if Israel was prepared to take real concrete steps to establish an independent Palestinian state.”
Blinken traveled to Turkey, Greece, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and the West Bank to continue diplomatic discussions as tensions rise in the region over the war between Israel and Hamas.
The latest trip was Blinken's fourth visit to the region since Hamas invaded Israel on October 7 in a surprise attack that killed 1,200 Israelis and took more than 200 hostage. In the months that followed, Israel launched a deadly and devastating counterattack that killed more than 23,000 Palestinians and displaced almost the entire population of the region.
Miller said that during the last trip, “there was already a difference” because the Arab partners they spoke with after the initial attacks were not prepared to discuss reconstruction, security and governance in Gaza, but now they are.
Blinken reportedly had a “very frank conversation” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli government officials about the partners the country would gain in the Arab world if it agreed to Gaza's future.
“But look, it's going to take tough choices, and not just tough choices from Arab partners in the region, but really tough choices from Israel,” Miller said. “So the United States cannot make those difficult choices for Israel. We cannot make those difficult choices for any of these countries.”
Miller said the United States plans to play a leadership role in presenting its vision for Gaza reconstruction, and that Blinken will “continue to deliver” and “keep up the pressure” in upcoming trips to the region in the coming weeks and months.
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