U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken paid a surprise visit to the occupied West Bank to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas amidst the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. The trip came shortly after Israeli airstrikes targeted a refugee camp in Gaza, resulting in the deaths of at least 40 people. This incident sparked protests against Blinken’s visit and U.S. support for Israel.
Despite the tense circumstances, both Blinken and Abbas greeted each other publicly without making any comments, leaving their meeting’s outcome uncertain. However, Palestinian Ambassador Husam Zomlot emphasized the urgent need for a ceasefire and stressed the importance of U.S. involvement as a peacemaker during this critical time.
After meeting with Abbas, Blinken proceeded to Cyprus and then to Baghdad, where he held talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shiaa al-Sudani. The discussions covered the Israel-Hamas conflict, attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq, and the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Blinken labeled his meeting in Baghdad as “good” and emphasized the necessity of a humanitarian pause in the fighting to assist both Israelis and desperate Palestinians.
During his encounter with Abbas, Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to providing humanitarian aid and essential services to Gaza. He also highlighted the need to curb extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank. Throughout his trip, Blinken has vocally supported Israel’s right to defend itself while urging adherence to the laws of war and the protection of civilians.
Notably, Blinken has suggested rolling humanitarian pauses in Israeli operations to facilitate the flow of aid and the evacuation of foreign nationals from Gaza. However, Arab officials from countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates have called for an immediate ceasefire. Blinken argued that a cease-fire would leave Hamas in power and proposed short-term humanitarian pauses instead.
Currently, discussions regarding Gaza’s future governance have been put on hold, as immediate priorities are focused on halting the ongoing violence and ensuring consistent humanitarian support. U.S. officials believe that Arab support will play a crucial role in easing conditions in Gaza and potentially replacing Hamas as the governing authority.
While ideas for Gaza’s future governance have garnered limited enthusiasm, the United States has suggested a combination of a revitalized Palestinian Authority, involvement from international organizations, and a potential peacekeeping force. The objective is to create a stable and secure environment for the region’s inhabitants.
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