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

TEL AVIV (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his recent trip to the Middle East, where he urged the top U.S. diplomat to agree to an action plan. Ceasefire proposal Which faced new uncertainty in the wake of Israel Hostage rescue operation Which led to the killing of many Palestinians and turmoil in the Netanyahu government.

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 El-Sisi, the main mediator with the armed Hamas movement. He then headed to Israel for talks with Netanyahu and other Israeli officials.

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

He told reporters before leaving Cairo on a trip that you will also lead to Jordan and Qatar: “If you want to stop the shooting, press Hamas to say yes.” Blinken said Israel accepted the proposal, although Netanyahu expressed doubts.

Blinken said: “I know that there are those who are pessimistic about the possibilities,” holding Hamas responsible. “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.”

While President Joe Biden, Blinken and other US officials praised the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Saturday, the operation resulted in the deaths of 274 Palestinian civilians and It may complicate the ceasefire process By encouraging Israel and strengthening Hamas’ determination to continue fighting the war that began with its attack on Israel on October 7.

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

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

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In his talks with Sisi, Blinken also discussed post-conflict governance and reconstruction plans in Gaza.

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

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.

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)

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.”

The three-phase 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, a “complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza” and a “permanent cessation of hostilities,” according to the report. A draft resolution drafted by the United States and presented to the UN Security Council. The third phase provides for the reconstruction of Gaza.

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The Security Council must Vote on Monday on the resolutionWho welcomes the proposal and urges 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,… 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.

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.

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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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