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Antony Blinken Facilitates Israel’s Agreement for UN Mission to Assess Northern Gaza Situation

Antony Blinken

Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State on another Middle East trip to stem the war in Gaza, said displaced Palestinians must be able to return home as soon as conditions allow, while Israel has agreed to allow a U.N. mission to assess the war-torn region. The situation in northern Gaza.

Antony Blinken said at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday (January 9): “As Israel’s campaign shifts to a lower intensity phase in northern Gaza and as the Defense Forces reduce their presence there, we agreed today to allow the United Nations to launch an evaluation of the mission’s plans. It will determine what needs to be done to allow displaced Palestinians to safely return to their homes in the north.”

The top US diplomat also urged the Israeli leader to prevent further harm to Palestinian civilians.

“The daily toll on civilians in Gaza, especially children, is too great,” he said.

International Court of Justice hearings

Later this week, the International Court of Justice will hold hearings on a case brought by South Africa. South Africa accuses Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and seeks an emergency moratorium on Israeli military operations.

Antony Blinken said the United States believes the case has no merit and interferes with Israeli efforts to combat Hamas militants and other Iranian proxies, including Hezbollah and the Houthis.

“We want this war to end as soon as possible,” he said. “But it is crucial that Israel achieves its very legitimate goal—to ensure that October 7 never happens again.”

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Israeli President Isaac Herzog rebutted submissions at the ICJ accusations of genocide, calling the accusations “cruel and ridiculous.”

Gaza’s future

Antony Blinken was in Tel Aviv on Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Herzog, Foreign Minister Israel Katz, and other top Israeli war cabinet officials held talks.

“The Secretary discussed with the Prime Minister the ongoing efforts to secure the release of all remaining hostages and the importance of increasing humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza,” a statement from the U.S. State Department said. “In this regard, the Secretary welcomed Seager’s appointment,” the statement added. Sigrid Kaag is the United Nations Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza, and I am committed to working closely with her in this new role.”

Antony Blinken emphasized that seeking a path to the establishment of a Palestinian state to resolve the long-standing conflict means that it is possible for Israel to win acceptance from its Arab neighbors.

Netanyahu is firmly opposed to a two-state solution.

Under the post-war road map envisioned by Washington, the West Bank and Gaza should be united under a Palestinian-led government, with Hamas militants not allowed to play any role.

But some analysts are skeptical of the idea, downplaying its prospects.

“I don’t think the Palestinian Authority will return to Gaza and exercise any meaningful control over what’s left of Gaza,” Khaled Elgindy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, told the media on Tuesday. “Even in the West Bank, they are having a very difficult time maintaining control.”

Antony Blinken also met on Tuesday with the families of some of the hostages still being held by Hamas militants in Gaza. He also conveyed to the Israeli leader the views he heard from other leaders in the region during stops in Turkey, Greece, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.

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Gaza health officials say more than 23,000 Palestinians, a large proportion of whom are women and children, have been killed in Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

After talks with Antony Blinken on Monday, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman issued a statement stressing the importance of halting military operations in the Gaza Strip and the need to create conditions for the restoration of peace and stability. .

Asked about U.S.-led efforts to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, Antony Blinken said the kingdom and the region had a “clear interest” in pursuing that goal but that “it would require an end to the conflict in Gaza and it would also clearly require a pragmatic path to a Palestinian state.”

Saudi Arabia has suspended diplomatic talks to normalize relations with Israel amid the conflict between Hamas militants and Israeli forces.

Escalating conflict is not in the interests of all parties

An Israeli airstrike killed a key Hezbollah commander in southern Lebanon on Monday, the latest sign that the conflict in the Middle East threatens to expand. After the incident, Antony Blinken told reporters that it was clearly in the interest of Israel, Lebanon, or Hezbollah not to let the conflict expand beyond Gaza.

Hezbollah said the commander was Wissam al-Tawil. Last week, senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri was killed in a drone strike in Beirut. Hamas and Hezbollah are both designated terrorist organizations by the United States, and both are supported by Iran. Iran’s militant allies in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen have been conducting long-range attacks on Israel.

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The conflict in Gaza has been going on for three months. The United States has urged Israel to shift its focus to smaller-scale military operations in Gaza, but Washington continues to support Israel’s rejection of Arab demands for a ceasefire. Israel has vowed to continue the war until it is confident that the threat of future attacks by Hamas militants has been eliminated and that it will never again control the Gaza Strip.

On October 7, Hamas militants crossed into southern Israel, and Israel subsequently launched a military campaign aimed at eliminating Hamas. Israel says Hamas terror attacks killed about 1,200 people and took about 240 hostages.

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