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Blinken tells Qatar, ‘Some Hamas proposed changes are workable, some are not’

June 13, 2024 at 10:24 am

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gives a joint press conference with his Qatari counterpart in Doha on 12 June, 2024 [IBRAHEEM AL-OMARI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani held a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Doha on Wednesday and told journalists that they had discussed the response from Hamas to the latest ceasefire proposal.

Pointing out that Qatar and its partners are committed to finding a way to end the war in Gaza as soon as possible, Bin Abdulrahman said that the message for everyone is that every day means a loss of lives and innocent people.

“We have received the Security Council resolution which was presented by the United States of America for an immediate ceasefire and a deal to exchange the hostages and go back to the political negotiation to find a sustainable solution,” the prime minister explained. “Qatar welcomes the resolution. We rely on the American role, and our partners in Egypt and other countries in order to pressure all the parties to reach an agreement that ends the war.”

He noted that the just solution to the issue in occupied Palestine is the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. “The region is open to having a clear peace agreement based on the [2002] Arab Peace Initiative, and there is a movement in the UN General Assembly to accept Palestine as a full member. This step will also contribute to the two-state solution.”

For his part, Blinken praised Qatar for its “remarkable generosity” in helping people in such urgent need, providing 4,700 tonnes of food, medicine, and other life-saving aid to the Palestinians in Gaza. “We’re also continuing to work every single day on increasing the flow of assistance into Gaza and making sure that it gets to people who need it within Gaza; working to improve civilian protection, working to secure the release of hostages.”

Hamas, he pointed out, has proposed numerous changes to the proposal that was on the table. “We discussed those changes last night with Egyptian colleagues and today with the prime minister [in Qatar]. Some of the changes are workable, some are not.”

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The deal on the table, said Blinken, was “virtually identical” to the proposal that Hamas put forward on 6 May. “However, Hamas proposed more changes, a number of which go beyond positions it had previously taken and accepted.” So, in the days ahead, he added, the US, Qatar and Egypt are going to continue to push on an urgent basis to try to close this deal. “We know it’s in the interests of Israelis, Palestinians, the region, indeed the entire world.”

According to the US official, Israel had accepted the proposal as it was, but Hamas waited nearly two weeks and then proposed more changes, a number of which go beyond positions it had previously taken and accepted. “As a result – and you heard the prime minister say this – the war that Hamas started on 7 October, with its barbaric attack on Israel and on Israeli civilians [sic], will go on. More people will suffer. More Palestinians will suffer. More Israelis will suffer.”

Surprisingly, given the US threats against international courts and officials, Blinken then claimed that the US is determined and insists that Israel or any other country adheres to international humanitarian law, the laws of armed conflict, upholds human rights and does not commit gross violations of those rights. “That remains and will always remain a policy and the focus that we bring to it every day, including doing our own investigations of incidents that come up in the course of this war.”

He insisted that this is not about changing fundamentals. “It’s about seeing if we can bridge the gaps that have been exposed by Hamas’s response, and I can’t tell you right now whether we’ll succeed. I believe it’s doable, I believe it’s absolutely necessary to try our hardest to do it, but there’s no guarantee.”

In closing, the US Secretary of State said that “from day one” it has been a primary objective to prevent the war in Gaza from spreading, but he pointed to the fact that “about 60,000 Israelis” have had to leave their homes in northern Israel because of rocket attacks and the threat from Hezbollah in Lebanon. “We don’t want to see that escalation. And I think it’s also safe to say that actually no one is looking to start a war.”

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