Creating new perspectives since 2009

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

January 9, 2024 at 1:29 pm

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) in Al-‘Ula, Saudi Arabia on January 08, 2024 [Chuck Kennedy/Department of State/Anadolu Agency]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israeli leaders on Tuesday that there was still a chance of winning acceptance from their Arab neighbours, if they create a path to a viable Palestinian state. Blinken made his comment during his latest mission to rein-in Israel’s Gaza war, Reuters has reported.

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

The US official met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was then due to speak with members of the war cabinet formed in the wake of the 7 October cross-border raid by Hamas and other Palestinian resistance fighters. According to Israel, 1,200 people were killed in the attack, and it has since been revealed that many if not most of them were killed by Israel Defence Forces tanks and helicopter gunships.

The subsequent Israeli military offensive has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, most of them children and women, and destroyed civilian infrastructure across Gaza, displacing almost all 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. US President Joe Biden, meanwhile, 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 issue, as part of a path towards ending the Gaza war. After his meetings with Arab allies, he said that 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 7 October can never happen again and work to build a much different and much better future.”

READ: 100 lawyers in Chile call on ICC to probe Netanyahu for war crimes in Gaza