Israel-Hamas conflict | US Secretary of State Blinken meets Middle East leaders

New Delhi, Nov 4: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jordan, met and discussed with key Middle East leaders to de-escalate the Israel-Hamas conflict. Blinken’s mission aims to address the dire situation faced by civilians affected by the ongoing fighting. Reports suggest that the US Secretary had difficult meetings with leaders of five Arab countries.

During his visit, Secretary Blinken met with the Prime Ministers of Lebanon and Qatar, seeking support for humanitarian pauses in the conflict. Blinken’s discussions with Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati emphasised the urgency of working towards a ceasefire in Gaza.

In addition to these bilateral meetings, Blinken had talks with foreign ministers from several Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry Urges ‘Immediate’ Ceasefire in Gaza

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has called for an “immediate and intensive” ceasefire in Gaza without any conditions. Shoukry emphasised Egypt’s unwavering commitment to delivering aid and providing medical treatment to the wounded in Gaza, pledging to continue these efforts.

During his discussions with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Shoukry expressed his concerns about what he referred to as “double standards.” He pointed out that there should be no differentiation in condemning the targeting of civilians and violations of international humanitarian law, particularly when it comes to matters related to the Palestinian cause. Shoukry argued against the notion that Arab blood is somehow less valuable than the blood of others, highlighting the need for consistent and impartial international responses to humanitarian crises.

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Jordan’s Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Ayman Safadi, delivered a comprehensive statement from the St Regis Hotel in Amman, shedding light on the recent discussions between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Arab foreign ministers. Safadi began by emphasizing the urgency of the situation, stressing that the entire region is perilously sinking into a sea of hatred with consequences that will reverberate for generations.

While replying to a question in a press conference in the presence of Blinken he said” we don’t know what Gaza will be left after the war. we need to stop the war.”

He underscored that this growing animosity is already evident through expressions and actions of hatred in the region, notably highlighting instances of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, which he condemned unequivocally. According to Safadi, such behaviour goes against the fundamental human values held by all parties involved

Crucially, Safadi made it clear that the ongoing conflict is not a religious war, firmly asserting, “It is not a war between Muslims and Jews.” He emphasized that the imperative of peace is embedded in the very core of all human values.

During the discussions, Safadi noted that there was a candid and direct exchange of ideas between the Arab foreign ministers and Secretary Blinken. He cited a shared commitment to halt what is increasingly described as a looming catastrophe that could cast a shadow over the region for a generation.

Among the points of agreement reached during the talks were the importance of providing humanitarian assistance, safeguarding civilians, and adhering to international humanitarian law. Safadi also stressed the unanimous rejection of the displacement of Palestinians from their land.

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Furthermore, he conveyed the collective demand of all Arab nations for an immediate ceasefire to bring an end to the ongoing conflict. Importantly, Safadi clarified that the Arab states do not accept the justification of Israel’s actions as self-defence.

In his concluding remarks, Safadi firmly condemned the killing of civilians and the destruction of their hospitals and mosques, emphasizing that such actions cannot be justified and will not lead to security for Israel or peace in the region.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ support for Israel’s right to self-defence against Hamas. However, Blinken emphasized the importance of taking all possible measures to prevent civilian casualties during these operations. He stressed that this approach would not only prevent further exploitation of the situation but is also the “right and moral thing to do.”

Blinken went on to express his deep concern, saying that seeing a Palestinian child rescued from the wreckage deeply affects him. He urged all parties involved to work together to prevent the dehumanization of each other.

Secretary Blinken also indicated that the United States believes that “humanitarian pauses” can play a significant role in facilitating these efforts. He mentioned having discussed the timing and locations for implementing such pauses and the necessary steps to make them a reality with Israeli officials.

Additionally, Blinken reiterated the U.S. commitment to the two-state solution, acknowledging that returning to the status quo is not a viable option. He expressed gratitude to Egypt for its role in facilitating aid into Gaza and providing care to injured patients. Blinken noted that efforts were ongoing to recover hostages still held by Hamas, with over 100 trucks en route to Rafah to address humanitarian needs in the region.

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In a press conference while answering questions he said, “Israel must take every possible means to prevent civilian casualties. we are working to have a structure in place to get more aid to Gaza.”

He also added that “Human Pause can be a critical mechanism for protecting civilians.”

Secretary Blinken also had discussions with Phillipe Lazzarini, the Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). He expressed his condolences for the UN aid workers who lost their lives during the conflict and praised UNRWA’s vital work in Gaza, referring to it as a lifeline for the region.

During his visit, Blinken reiterated the United States’ support for Israel’s right to self-defence. However, he also emphasized the urgent need for a “humanitarian pause” to facilitate the delivery of aid to Palestinian civilians, given the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Secretary Blinken’s itinerary includes a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and other regional partners.

Blinken initiated his diplomatic mission in Israel before coming to Jordan. This is his third visit to Israel since the conflict began in early October, with a focus on addressing the ongoing crisis and promoting regional stability.

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