Home News Blinken meets Netanyahu, hopes to stop Rafah attack

Blinken meets Netanyahu, hopes to stop Rafah attack

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel on Wednesday, the latest stop on his Middle East tour, as President Joe Biden seeks to stop Israel from invading the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Palestinians have fought during the war. This seeks asylum. .

Blinken and other top aides in the Biden administration have also called on Hamas to agree to a deal to release some hostages taken in the Oct. 7 attack in exchange for a six-week ceasefire and the release of some Palestinian prisoners. U.S. officials say they hope the temporary ceasefire will lead to a permanent ceasefire.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday He planned a major attack on Rafah “With or without” agreement.

Ceasefire talks have been deadlocked for months, and Israeli officials said on Monday they had agreed to lower their demands. They are now demanding that Hamas release 33 civilians – women, the elderly and those in need of emergency medical care – instead of 40. In November, Hamas released more than 100 hostages during a seven-day ceasefire.

Blinken discussed the deal during a nearly three-hour meeting with Netanyahu, according to a State Department summary. He also spoke about efforts to increase humanitarian aid to Gaza and the U.S. government’s “clear position” on Rafah, the summary added.

Blinken, on his third stop on the trip, also met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog at a hotel in Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning, as supporters of the hostages gathered outside.

“The proposals are on the table, as we said, no delays, no excuses,” Blinken told the president and reporters before the meeting began. He later met with several family members of American hostages held in Gaza before traveling in a motorcade to Jerusalem, where he met privately with Netanyahu.

Blinken and other U.S. officials said Hamas has little time to reach the deal as Netanyahu presses for an offensive against Rafah and the Biden administration warns it could have catastrophic consequences for civilians . U.S. officials have said they want Israel to launch targeted operations against Hamas leaders and fighters in Rafah, where Israeli officials say Hamas still has four battalions.

U.S. officials have expressed growing concern about Palestinian civilian casualties in the war. According to Gaza’s health ministry, more than 34,000 people have died.

Asked about Netanyahu’s remarks about Rafah, Blinken said U.S. efforts were focused on hostages and a ceasefire.

The issue of humanitarian aid to Gaza has also been high on Mr Blinken’s Middle East agenda. After meeting Netanyahu, Blinken began a long drive to southern Israel, where he planned to visit the port of Ashdod, which has been handling aid shipments to Gaza.

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