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Blinken, Netanyahu meet amid push for hostage deal

Blinken

The US Secretary of State said,’The only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire is Hamas. They have to decide, and they have to decide quickly.’

By JNS

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday, amid a diplomatic push to broker a ceasefire-for-hostages deal between Jerusalem and the Hamas terrorist organization.

The two leaders had a tête-à-tête at the Prime Minister’s Office in the capital ahead of an extended meeting scheduled for later in the day that is to include top American and Israeli officials.

Blinken met earlier on Wednesday with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv.

“Even in these very difficult times we are determined to get a ceasefire that brings the hostages home—and to get it now,” said Blinken following the meeting.

“And the only reason that wouldn’t be achieved is because of Hamas,” he added.

Washington’s top diplomat is also scheduled to meet with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

With War Cabinet member Benny Gantz dealing with a broken foot, a meeting between him and Blinken is still unconfirmed.

According to Ynet, Blinken is also scheduled to visit Kibbutz Be’eri, where Hamas terrorists butchered more than a hundred people during their Oct. 7 assault, as well as the Kerem Shalom Crossing with Gaza.

Blinken is also expected to visit the Ashdod Port in the afternoon to inspect aid deliveries for Palestinian civilians in Gaza, followed by a sit-down with families of American-Israeli hostages in Tel Aviv.

Wednesday’s meetings are part of Blinken’s broader Middle East tour, which included stops in Saudi Arabia and Jordan earlier this week.

On Tuesday, Blinken expressed optimism about narrowing the gaps in ceasefire negotiations following talks with King Abdullah of Jordan.

According to the State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller, “The Secretary discussed efforts to reach a ceasefire that secures the release of hostages and emphasized that Hamas should accept the proposal on the table. The Secretary also discussed ongoing diplomatic efforts to achieve enduring peace in the region, including through a pathway to an independent Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel.”

In Amman, Blinken met with U.N. Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza Sigrid Kaag. The two “discussed ongoing efforts and a shared commitment to surge critical humanitarian assistance in Gaza and ensure the recent increase in delivery of assistance is accelerated and sustained,” according to the State Department.

Throughout his tour of the region, Blinken expressed optimism about the feasibility of a renewed hostage deal, the terms of which he has declared “extraordinarily generous” on Israel’s part.

“In this moment, the only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire is Hamas. They have to decide, and they have to decide quickly,” Blinken told a World Economic Forum meeting in Riyadh on Monday.

This week’s trip marks Blinken’s seventh Mideast diplomatic swing and ninth visit to Israel since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led massacre.

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