Blinken Arrives in Riyadh to Push for Israel-Hamas Ceasefire and Gaza Aid

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken visits Mideast to push for Gaza ceasefire, increase humanitarian aid amid escalating Israel-Hamas conflict.

Momen Zellmi
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Blinken Visits Riyadh to Push for Israel-Hamas Ceasefire and Gaza Aid

Blinken Visits Riyadh to Push for Israel-Hamas Ceasefire and Gaza Aid

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Monday at the start of a crisis tour aimed at pushing for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and increasing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. Blinken will also visit Israel and Jordan during the trip, his seventh diplomatic mission to the Middle East since the war began over six months ago.

The key issues Blinken will tackle include negotiating a deal between Israel and Hamas for the release of Israeli hostages and a temporary ceasefire in Gaza in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners. He will also discuss with Arab and European foreign ministers the need to prevent the conflict from spreading in the region, particularly amid concerns about potential retaliation between Israel and Iran.

Another priority for Blinken is pushing Israel to further expand the scope and scale of humanitarian aid convoys bringing food, medicine, and water into Gaza, as the territory faces an impending famine. The U.S. is working with partners to establish a maritime humanitarian corridor to deliver aid. Blinken will meet with relief organizations and officials in Jordan and Israel to emphasize the pressing need for more assistance.

Why this matters: The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has resulted in over 34,000 Palestinian casualties and a dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Blinken's visit aims to broker a ceasefire and alleviate the suffering of civilians caught in the crossfire.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry, at least 34,454 Palestinians have been killed and 77,575 injured in Israel's military offensive. The U.S. and Israeli leaders have discussed hostage-release talks, with a senior Hamas official saying the group will deliver its response to Israel's latest ceasefire proposal during talks in Egypt on Monday.

Looking ahead, Blinken will also discuss plans for the reconstruction and governance of Gaza with a group of five Arab nations once the war ends. The U.S. is committed to advancing lasting peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians, including through practical steps to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel. However, significant obstacles remain, including the current Israeli government's rejection of a two-state solution.

As the U.S. evaluates new information from Israel to determine whether to blacklist certain Israeli military units accused of human rights violations, a State Department spokesperson emphasized that "it is Hamas that is standing in the way of a ceasefire, not Israel." Egyptian officials have stepped up mediation efforts, proposing a compromise solution that would see some hostages released in exchange for Palestinians in Gaza being able to return to their homes. But with Hamas unwilling to compromise on its demands and Israel prepared to attack the city of Rafah where over a million people are sheltering, the prospects for a swift end to the fighting remain uncertain.

Key Takeaways

  • Blinken visits Mideast to push for Israel-Hamas ceasefire and aid to Gaza.
  • Negotiations aim to secure release of Israeli hostages, Palestinian prisoners.
  • U.S. working to establish maritime corridor to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.
  • Conflict has resulted in over 34,000 Palestinian casualties and a humanitarian crisis.
  • Significant obstacles remain, including Israel's rejection of a two-state solution.