Arab countries are pressuring Blinken for a ceasefire in Gaza
Written by Simon Lewis and Sulaiman Al-Khalidi
AMMAN (Reuters) – Arab countries allied with the United States will press Secretary of State Antony Blinken for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during a meeting of foreign ministers in Amman on Saturday, as Washington tries to persuade Israel to agree to a temporary ceasefire to allow entry into the country. Aid.
The United States has rejected growing international calls for a ceasefire but has sought to persuade Israel to accept a local truce, an idea rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he met Blinken on Friday.
Blinken is making his second visit to the region since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out on October 7, when the Palestinian Islamic movement attacked Israel from Gaza, in a rampage that Israel says killed 1,400 people and took more than 240 others hostage.
Health officials in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip say more than 9,250 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks since then. The Israeli army bombed the Gaza Strip from the air, imposed a siege, and launched a ground attack, which raised global concern about the humanitarian conditions in the Strip. Food is scarce and medical services are collapsing.
The Jordanian Foreign Minister confirmed that the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and representatives of the Palestinians will stress “the Arab position calling for an immediate ceasefire, the delivery of humanitarian aid, and ways to end the dangerous deterioration that threatens the security of the region.” The ministry said in a statement on Friday.
After meeting with Blinken on Friday, Netanyahu said that Israel rejected a temporary ceasefire that did not include the release of hostages.
A senior US State Department official said Blinken’s talks with Netanyahu and his war cabinet about the humanitarian truce on Friday mirrored an earlier effort last month to allow humanitarian goods to reach Gaza.
The official said that in this case, Israel initially refused but eventually relented, and more than 100 aid trucks now cross into the Strip daily. US officials say between 500 and 600 trucks are needed daily to meet needs in Gaza.
Now the United States is asking Israel to agree to temporary, site-specific pauses in its attacks to allow aid distribution inside Gaza, but Israel is concerned that Hamas may use the agreed pauses to regroup and resupply.
US special envoy for humanitarian issues in the Middle East, David Satterfield, told reporters traveling with Blinken that Israel’s concerns are understandable, but assurances that Israel will not target specific places or routes are a “strategic necessity” to get aid to those who need it.
Satterfield said that such guarantees could mean “the resumption of the provision of basic services: bakeries, and the continuous operation of water desalination plants.”
“We want to see the ability to achieve safe and sustainable movement of humanitarian aid, not only through the Rafah corridor, but to points of need in the south,” he said, adding that between 800,000 and one million people have already moved from the Strip. North to south.
Jordanian King Abdullah, a staunch US ally, told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a phone call on Friday that the international community urgently needs to press for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
Arab countries are concerned about the risk of the conflict spreading to the region. Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite factions supported by Iran have launched attacks on Israel since October 7, while Iraqi Shiite factions supported by Tehran have opened fire on American forces in Iraq and Syria.
During his meeting with Blinken in Jordan today, Saturday, Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati stressed the urgent need for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Mikati also said that the “Israeli aggression” against southern Lebanon must stop.
US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that Blinken “shared his deep concern about the exchange of fire along Lebanon’s southern border with Israel and stressed the importance of ensuring that the conflict between Israel and Hamas does not spread elsewhere.”
(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)