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

Cairo (AFP) – US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken He returned to the Middle East on Monday as a proposal Ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas Hanging in the balance after the dramatic rescue of Four Israeli hostages being held in Gaza In a major military raid and turmoil in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

With no firm response yet from Hamas to the proposal it received 10 days ago, Blinken began his eighth visit to the region 10 days ago. The conflict began in October By meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the main mediator with Hamas.

Blinken once again called on Hamas to accept the plan, which he said had broad international support and was accepted by Israel. “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.

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

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.

“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 have not received an official response from Hamas at this time.”

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

In his talks with Sisi and Qatari leaders, whose countries are the main mediators with Hamas in the ceasefire negotiations, Blinken will stress the importance of convincing the militants to accept the three-stage proposal on the table. The plan calls for the release of more hostages and a temporary cessation of hostilities that could lead to a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

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“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.”

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, it is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu He expressed doubts, saying that what was presented publicly was not accurate and that Israel remained committed to destroying Hamas.

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’s far-right allies threatened to collapse his government if he implemented the plan Benny GantzPopular centrist, to resign on Sunday from the three-member war Cabinet after saying he would do so if the Prime Minister did not formulate a plan 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 again on Tuesday, officials said.

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US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on Friday that Blinken would use the trip “to discuss how the ceasefire proposal would benefit both Israelis and Palestinians.”

Miller said the agreement would not only ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but also pave the way for a reduction in tensions along the Israeli-Lebanese border and create conditions for broader Israeli integration with its Arab neighbors, strengthening Israel’s long-term security.

Despite Blinken’s visits to the region about once a month since the war began, the conflict has continued with more than 36,700 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.

The war has severely disrupted the flow of water Food, medicine and other supplies For the Palestinians who face… Widespread hunger. United Nations agencies say that more than a million people in Gaza 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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