UPDATED: Blinken arrives in Cairo for new push on Gaza ceasefire

Ahram Online , Monday 10 Jun 2024

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Egypt on Monday at the start of a new Mideast tour meant to push forward the new ceasefire proposal put forth by US President Joe Biden and prevent the war from spilling into Lebanon.

Blink in Egypt
Photo: AFP


Blinken will meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and then travel to Israel later in the day to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, per a State Department schedule.

Blinken’s visit, the eighth since the eruption of the Israeli war on Gaza, comes nearly two weeks after Biden advocated for the fresh three-phase proposal, which starts with a six-week complete ceasefire that would see Israeli forces withdraw from all populated areas of Gaza.

During his tour, Blinken will emphasize the importance of Hamas accepting the proposal on the table, noting that it is “nearly identical to the one Hamas endorsed last month,” according to a statement by the State Department. 

He will also underscore that the proposal would alleviate suffering in Gaza, enable a massive surge in humanitarian assistance, and allow Palestinians to return to their neighbourhoods. 

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to sign up to the plan, promoted by Biden, as an Israeli proposal. 

He said there are "gaps" between what Biden laid out and Israel's stance. 

The Israeli War Council decided to request guarantees from the United States that the war on Gaza would continue even after reaching a captives deal and that Israel would “reserve the right to return to war.”

In an attempt to encourage Israel to stand by it, the US President said the deal would also lead to the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The proposal “would unlock the possibility of achieving calm along Israel’s northern border – so both displaced Israeli and Lebanese families can return to their homes – and set the conditions for further integration between Israel and its Arab neighbours,” read the State Department's statement.


Nuserait overshadow

Egypt, Qatar, and the US have been mediating talks between Hamas and Israel since the outbreak of the Israeli war.

The latest round of truce talks held in Cairo in early May concluded without reaching a deal, as Israel proceeded ahead with its Rafah plan.

Israel deployed forces to the border city and took over the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Efforts have since been ongoing to revive the talks.

Biden’s initiative has stepped efforts to stop the war in Gaza, where Israel’s brazen hostilities have killed thousands of Palestinian civilians.

Since the start of the brutal war on Gaza, on 7 October, Israel has obliterated three-quarters of Gaza and taken the lives of more than 37,124 civilians, mostly women and children, with more than 84,712 injured.

Several meetings have been held in recent days gathering security leaders from Egypt, Qatar, and the US to revive the stalled talks.

However, Israel’s new massacre in Gaza's Nuseirat refugee camp which killed more than 274 Palestinians may affect the ceasefire efforts.

Blinken is also set to travel to Jordan and Qatar this week.

He will attend a conference on the urgent humanitarian response to Gaza, co-hosted by Jordan, Egypt, and the United Nations.
Rafah dilemma

No humanitarian aid has entered a population facing famine in Gaza through the Rafah crossing since Israel took over the Palestinian side of the crossing.

Egypt redirected Gaza-bound humanitarian aid trucks from Rafah to Karm Abu Salem crossing temporarily as per an agreement between the Egyptian and US presidents.

Cairo has repeatedly expressed its rejection of the presence of Israeli forces at the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing, insisting that it will only cooperate with Palestinians or international parties over the crossing.

Egypt also said Israeli forces should withdraw from the Palestinian side of the crossing as a prerequisite for reopening it.

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