Blinken carries Arab message to Israel: Keep hope of Palestinian state alive

GAZA: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on his latest mission to rein in the Gaza war, told Israeli leaders on Tuesday (Jan 9) there was still a chance of winning acceptance from their Arab neighbours, if they create a path to a viable Palestinian state.

On his fourth trip to the region since October in a so far largely fruitless quest to tamp down the violence, Blinken said he would share what he had heard in two days of talks with Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Blinken met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was then due to speak with members of the war cabinet formed in the wake of the Oct 7 attacks by Palestinian Hamas militants, which Israel says killed 1,200 people.

The Israeli offensive has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, destroyed much of Gaza and displaced most of the population of 2.3 million at least once, creating a dramatic and worsening humanitarian crisis.

Blinken had already said he would press Israel on the “absolute imperative” to do more to protect Gaza’s civilians and allow humanitarian aid to reach them. His boss, President Joe Biden, said overnight that Washington was quietly pushing Israel to begin withdrawing some forces.

Blinken’s meetings around the region have focused on seeking a longer-term approach to the decades-old Israel-Palestinian conflict, as part of a path toward ending the Gaza war. After his meetings with Arab allies, he said they wanted integration with Israel – also a long-term Israeli aim – but only if that included a “practical pathway” to a Palestinian state.

“I think there are actually real opportunities there,” he told his Israeli counterpart Israel Katz on Tuesday.

“But we have to get through this very challenging moment and ensure that Oct 7 can never happen again and work to build a much different and much better future.”

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