Israel rejects Blinken’s concerns over Gaza war as UN ceasefire call fails

TEL AVIV — Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli leaders held face-to-face talks Friday about Israel’s future. Gaza warAs America’s top diplomat urged Israel not to invade a city packed with civilians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defiantly declared “we will do it ourselves.”

On the same day, Israel’s far-right finance minister announced the seizure of three square miles of Palestinian territory in the West Bank, and the tense back-and-forth marked Israel’s latest defiance in the face of U.S. demands that it reduce Palestinian territory. Gaza civilians suffer and move towards a two-state solution.

The exchange, which came at the end of Blinken’s trip to the region, seemed to indicate that Israeli leaders have little interest in de-escalating operations in Gaza, despite growing criticism from their main military backers and allies.

According to Gaza’s health ministry, more than 31,000 Palestinians have been killed during Israel’s five-month military operation, which was launched in response to an October 7 attack by Hamas-led militants in southern Israel. It killed about 1,200 people and claimed the lives of more than 100 Palestinians. 250 hostages.

While the health ministry did not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its death toll, Palestinian officials said most of the dead were women and children. Many people in the besieged enclave are now fighting for survival: Monday, UN-backed report says famine may have spread to northern regions More than half of Gaza’s 2.2 million residents face catastrophic hunger.

Before arriving on Friday, Blinken had spent days meeting with Arab leaders to try to finalize plans for a post-conflict Gaza that would eventually lead to Palestinian statehood. Seizing land in the West Bank would directly undermine this effort.

A major military ground operation in Rafah “could cause more civilian deaths; it could potentially cause greater disruption to the delivery of humanitarian aid,” Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv after a day of meetings with Israeli leaders . “This risks further isolating Israel around the world and jeopardizing its long-term security and status.”

The Biden administration has provided strong support to Israel throughout the conflict, approve The United States has made more than 100 arms sales to the country since Oct. 7 and provided diplomatic cover at the U.N. Security Council, where it vetoed multiple resolutions calling for an immediate ceasefire.

For now, U.S. leaders appear unwilling to use the most direct leverage they have, which would involve imposing conditions on the supply of U.S. military equipment to Israel. Blinken was asked several times during his visit whether the United States would stop or slow down aid to Israel if it invaded Rafah or the conflict continued, and each time he said he would not speculate on what-ifs.

But as the United States grows increasingly dissatisfied with Israel’s conduct in the war, the Biden administration’s rhetoric has at least become tougher, and on Friday the U.S. representative on the U.N. Security Council introduced a resolution calling for a moratorium on the fighting. But it was vetoed by Russia and China.

While Biden summoned top Israeli officials to Washington next week to outline U.S. concerns about the Rafah incursion and lay out strategies that could target Hamas without significant civilian casualties, Netanyahu gave no indication of any on Friday. There are signs he will relent.

“I told him that we recognize the need to evacuate civilians from war zones and of course take care of humanitarian needs, and we are making sure that we do that,” Netanyahu said in a video statement after meeting Blinken. “But we recognize the need to evacuate civilians from war zones and of course take care of humanitarian needs.” I also told him that we cannot defeat Hamas without entering Rafah and eliminating the remaining Hamas battalions. I told him that we hope to be able to do this with the support of the United States, but if necessary we will do it yourself.”

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Tensions also rose at the United Nations Security Council on Friday, with Russia and China vetoing a U.S.-led resolution urging an agreement on a sustained ceasefire in the Middle East. Gaza Striprelated to the release of Hamas hostages.

In calling for support, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the resolution reflected efforts to overcome divisions in the Security Council. This marked the first time the United States had directly called for an “immediate” ceasefire. It also condemned Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7.

But Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia called the measure a “hypocritical move” to benefit the United States and Israel, telling member states: “If you do this, you will be humiliated.”

Russia and China called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. Nebenzia accused the U.S. of “selling a product” in its wording of the resolution, which combines calls for a ceasefire with support for U.S. efforts to negotiate a temporary halt to the fighting, release hostages and increase humanitarian aid.

“American products are extremely politicized,” he said, “and their sole purpose is to help America function.” [U.S.] Voters, throw them a bone in the form of some reference to a ceasefire. “

Responding to the vote on the resolution, which Algeria also opposed, Thomas Greenfield said it could hamper ceasefire and hostage release talks.

“Russia has waged unprovoked wars against its neighbors, shamelessly and hypocritically throwing stones at its neighbors while it lives in a glass house,” she said, referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. officials say they are close to reaching an agreement with Arab countries to offer Israel a package of deals to resolve the situation in Gaza, with the ultimate goal of establishing a Palestinian state.

The plan will include a plan for how to govern Gaza and rebuild the bombed territory, with Arab states providing guarantees for Israel’s security. Saudi Arabia will normalize relations with Israel, an important step in Israel’s ties with the region. In return, Israeli leaders must agree to a two-state solution and other steps that would bolster the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority that Netanyahu has long derided.

In reality, the plan is an unprecedented effort to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all — a goal that U.S. officials acknowledge is unlikely to be achieved for Israel’s current government. But they said that after developing the vision, they hoped it would be attractive enough to Israelis to decide to pursue it.

U.S. officials hope to present the plan during a ceasefire and hostage release — which Blinken said Israel and Hamas will continue to negotiate in Qatar, with Qatari, Egyptian and U.S. teams serving as interlocutors.

“We have teams in Doha and, as I said, we’ve closed the gap to some remaining margin, but the closer you get to the goal line, the harder it is to get that last yard, so there are some tough issues that need to be worked out,” Blinken said .

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While in Tel Aviv, Blinken met privately with the families of U.S. citizens held hostage by Hamas. As he left, he also spoke briefly to a group of family members of the Israeli hostages and their supporters who were demonstrating for his help in bringing about a ceasefire and hostage agreement. “We are working hard to get them home,” Blinken said as he shook hands with them on a street near Tel Aviv’s waterfront.

“There is a lot of tragedy, pain and suffering in this region, and we want Americans to help us end the bloodshed,” said Tzipi Haitovsky, one of the demonstration organizers. “It doesn’t matter what your politics are,” she said. “There is no excuse for holding citizens hostage.”

In Gaza, too, people described the deepening horror of a conflict with no clear end in sight.

Tahani Qaoud, a 38-year-old mother of two who lives in the besieged north, said by phone that she could not find Pampers or give her six Milk for her one-month-old daughter, and no food or water to calm her hungry three-year-old daughter. .

Her husband, Ahmed, was one of hundreds of desperate Gazans who packed aid trucks and arrived at the Kuwaiti Circle in Gaza City last week. Kaoud said Ahmed was hit by a tank shell and died of excessive blood loss.

The Israeli military denied that its troops fired any weapons into the crowd.

“I feel very tired after experiencing so many deaths,” she said. “Their father went out to buy them food. Asking nothing in return. When he came back he was dead.”

Any pause in hostilities will be used to try to rapidly increase the flow of aid into Gaza. On Tuesday, the United Nations’ top human rights official, Volker Türk, called the humanitarian crisis “man-made” and “totally preventable.”

“The situation of hunger and famine is the result of Israel’s widespread restrictions on the entry and distribution of humanitarian aid and commercial supplies, the displacement of much of the population, and the destruction of critical civilian infrastructure,” he said.

Israel denies restricting aid into Gaza, accuses the United Nations of failing to distribute aid and accuses Hamas militants of diverting aid to those in need.

With overland deliveries doing little to ease the growing crisis, the United States has expanded aid to Gaza, with flights now flying out of Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East.

The United States has also announced that it will build a floating terminal in Gaza to allow food to be shipped by ship from Cyprus, although the terminal is not expected to be operational for several months. Aid groups have criticized airdrops and sea deliveries as ineffective alternatives to road deliveries.

U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Timmy Davis spoke Thursday on the tarmac at Al-Udeid, flanked by two C-17 cargo planes carrying thousands of meals.

DeYoung reported from Washington, Loefflerk reported from London, and Berger reported from Jerusalem. Alon Rom in Tel Aviv and Susannah George in Al Udeid, Qatar, contributed to this report.

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By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

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