June 13, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Gaza War: Blinken says the fate of the ceasefire plan is in the hands of Hamas

Gaza War: Blinken says the fate of the ceasefire plan is in the hands of Hamas
Comment on the photo, The United States is pushing Israel and Hamas to reach a ceasefire agreement

  • author, Tom Bateman
  • Role, US State Department correspondent
  • Report from Traveling with Antony Blinken

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “reaffirmed his commitment” to the Gaza ceasefire plan, and that if it does not make progress, Hamas will bear responsibility.

He said that the responsibility lies with “one person” hiding “ten floors underground in Gaza” to conduct the vote, referring to Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar.

Netanyahu did not publicly endorse what Biden outlined and did not say whether it matched the Israeli ceasefire proposal on which Biden’s statement was based.

The resolution indicated that Israel accepted what Biden presented and called on Hamas to do so as well.

Hamas issued a statement on Tuesday in which it welcomed “what was included” in the resolution.

But Blinken said that Hamas’ response was not decisive, adding that “what is important” is what the Hamas leadership in Gaza says, “and this is what we do not have.”

If the proposal doesn’t go ahead, it’s “on them,” he said.

After months of faltering ceasefire talks behind closed doors, Biden publicly announced last month what he said was “an Israeli roadmap for a permanent ceasefire and the release of all hostages,” which he then went on to outline.

The second phase will see the release of the remaining hostages by Hamas and the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza as part of a “permanent” ceasefire, but the latter will remain subject to negotiations.

Mr. Blinken’s trip is part of an intense diplomatic effort by the United States to try to get the two sides to make progress on the proposal, but reaching an agreement faces significant hurdles.

Netanyahu admitted that the war cabinet approved the plan but did not express his support for it unequivocally. Members of the extreme right in his government threatened to withdraw from his coalition and cause its collapse if the agreement went ahead, considering it a surrender to Hamas.

At the same time, Hamas is likely to seek clear guarantees that the proposal will lead to a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces and a permanent end to the war.

So far, there has been no official response to the plan.

The actual Israeli proposal — which is said to be longer than Biden’s summary — has not been made public and it is unclear whether it differs from what the president conveyed in his May 31 statement. It was presented to Hamas days before Biden’s speech.

The Israeli proposal was approved by Israel’s three-member war cabinet and was not disclosed to the wider government. Some far-right ministers have already made clear they are opposed to this.

Comment on the photo, Blinken met with the families of the Israeli hostages outside the hotel where he was staying

While Blinken met with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, demonstrators outside his hotel raised American flags demanding an agreement. Many carried pictures of hostages and chanted: “SOS, USA,” and “We trust you, Blinken, make a deal.”

Vicki Cohen, the mother of Israeli soldier Nimrod Cohen, 19, who was kidnapped by Hamas on October 7, held up a sign showing his picture.

She told the BBC: “We came here to ask Blinken and the US government to help us and save us from our government. Our prime minister does not want to bring our loved ones back, we need their help to put pressure on our government.” “

Mr. Blinken later spoke to Ms. Cohen and the families of the other hostages, including the Americans, during a brief interaction with them outside the hotel.

He told them: “You will be here every day, and we will be here every day.”

The Secretary of State continued his whirlwind diplomatic visit, flying on a US military plane to the Jordanian capital, Amman, and from there by helicopter to the Dead Sea to attend a conference of Arab leaders calling for increased aid access to war-torn Gaza.

Five Jordanian Air Force helicopters participated in the flight, carrying Mr. Blinken, his officials and the BBC, among a group of traveling journalists. The fleet headed west, flying at low altitude, to the town of Sowayma on the shores of the Dead Sea, located directly across the water from the occupied West Bank.

He also announced $404 million in new aid to the Palestinians, and urged other countries to “step up” aid as well.

“The terror must stop,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the conference. “The speed and scale of the massacre and killing in Gaza exceeds anything during my years as Secretary-General,” he said.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Martin Griffiths described the Gaza war as a “blot on our humanity” and called for $2.5 billion to meet the humanitarian needs of Palestinians in Gaza from April to December.

The war began after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking 251 others to Gaza hostage. The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says more than 37,000 people have been killed in the Israeli offensive since then.