It’s his fifth visit to West Asia in four months since the October 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel. And US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says diplomatic efforts will continue to dial down tensions in the region.
Ever since the horrific attacks by Hamas, the Israeli defence forces have launched a massive counter-offensive in Gaza. The goal, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, is to defeat Hamas, once and for all.
Caught in the collateral damage are civilians in Gaza as Hamas continues to use human shields, even in schools and hospitals.
As the human tragedy mounts and there’s fear of the war snowballing into a regional conflict, America wants a humanitarian pause in the Israeli offensive so that aid can reach the Gazans who desperately need it and hostages can be set free.
In the current round of the US fire-fighting exercise, Blinken first travelled to Riyadh. The Saudis now say they won’t talk to Israel unless the latter recognizes a separate Palestinian state.
Blinken’s next stop was Cairo where he met the Egyptian president. Egypt was party to the peace talks held in Paris last month to resolve the current crisis in Gaza.
The Secretary of State’s next destination was Qatar, which was privy to the Paris talks and which has been in touch with Hamas over a proposed truce. The terrorist group has responded to a peace proposal, the content of which isn’t public yet.
At a press conference in Doha, one reporter asked very pointed questions about Netanyahu’s defiant stance on the military operations in Gaza and why the US has been unable to persuade him. Blinken gave no specific response.
“Virtually everything that we do in diplomacy in general and in the case of this crisis more specifically is a process. x. And it requires being in there with your sleeves rolled up every single day to try to make progress on all of the areas where we’ve been determined to make progress.”