Home International Blinken to discuss ‘way forward’ in Gaza as he meets Israeli leaders

Blinken to discuss ‘way forward’ in Gaza as he meets Israeli leaders

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will discuss the “way forward” in Israel’s war in Gaza as he meets with leaders including Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday after touring Israel’s Arab neighbours.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz, during his week-long trip aimed at calming tensions across the Middle East, at David Kempinski Hotel in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 9, 2024. Picture: Reuters, Evelyn Hockstein

By Simon Lewis and Dan Williams

TEL AVIV – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will discuss the “way forward” in Israel’s war in Gaza as he meets with leaders including Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday after touring Israel’s Arab neighbours.

Speaking alongside Israeli President Isaac Herzog ahead of their meeting on Tuesday morning, Blinken said he would share what he had heard from regional countries during a day of meetings with Israel’s government.

That will include meeting the war cabinet formed in the wake of the October 7 attacks by Palestinian Hamas militants that Israel says killed 1,200 people.

Israel launched an air and ground assault on the enclave of Gaza in response that has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

“There’s lots to talk about, in particular about the way forward,” said Blinken, who has visited Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, as well as Turkey and Greece, since Saturday.

As well as trying to tamp down regional tensions, the US top diplomat has been discussing plans for the future governance of Gaza, which could involve Israel’s Muslim-majority neighbours.

Blinken said on Monday before heading to Israel that regional states wanted integration with Israel but only if plans to normalize relations included a “practical pathway” to a future Palestinian state.

He told his Israeli counterpart, Israel Katz, on Tuesday that there were opportunities for regional integration and connectivity “but we have to get through this very challenging moment”.

Blinken would also meet with families of hostages taken by Hamas, and discuss the “relentless efforts” to bring them back, he said.

Several dozen protesters gathered outside the hotel where Blinken was having meetings and called for a ceasefire to secure the release of hostages.

Israel says that, of some 240 people seized on October 7, 132 are still being held in Gaza and 25 of them have died in captivity.

Herzog thanked Washington for its support of Israel and denounced South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice.

The US has called the case unhelpful and said it has not seen acts of genocide in Gaza.

– REUTERS

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