© Reuters. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s President Isaac Herzog throughout their assembly on the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. Mark Schiefelbein/Pool by way of REUTERS
By Humeyra Pamuk
TEL AVIV (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday voiced hopes for a deal for the discharge of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas in return for an prolonged pause to the war in Gaza.
“There’s a lot of work to be done but we are very much focused on doing that work, and hopefully being able to resume releasing hostages that was interrupted,” Blinken informed reporters initially of his assembly in Jerusalem with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
The prime U.S. diplomat earlier met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and mentioned a Hamas counter proposal to a ceasefire proposal drawn up by U.S. and Israeli spy chiefs and delivered to the militant group final week by Qatari and Egyptian mediators.
Other Israeli officers corresponding to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Mossad Director David Barnea additionally attended the assembly, in accordance to a video from the start of the assembly launched by Netanyahu’s workplace.
The prime U.S. diplomat has been conducting intense shuttle diplomacy, crisscrossing the Middle East on Tuesday in his fifth go to to the area because the lethal Hamas assault on Israel on Oct. 7, and assembly with the leaders of Egypt and Qatar, two nations mediating the hostage negotiations with Hamas.
Blinken and different senior U.S. officers see securing a deal to launch the remaining hostages in change for an prolonged pause in the Israel-Hamas war as the very best path ahead for area for talks to get hold of a wider integration of Israel into the area, together with a normalisation of its ties with Saudi Arabia.
Talks on the construction of Gaza when the war ends, how the Palestinian Authority – which workout routines restricted self-rule in some areas of the occupied West Bank – wants to be reformed to probably rule the densely populated enclave and figuring out a pathway for a Palestinian state are all variables in the identical equation, in accordance to U.S. officers.
Ensuring extra humanitarian assist reaches Gaza and is distributed to these in want additionally is determined by an finish to the preventing, officers say.
Blinken informed Herzog he would share with him what he heard in his assembly with Saudi, Egyptian and Qatari officers on Israel’s wider integration into the area.
“I do believe that there’s a very positive, powerful future that is possible that genuinely integrates Israel into the region and addresses its most profound security needs to be able to live in peace and genuine security and also answers the aspirations of the Palestinian people,” Blinken mentioned.
“You can see that equation very clearly, and it was only reinforced by my visits with our friends and partners in the region.”