Blinken says a ceasefire would benefit Hamas

Ahram Online , Saturday 4 Nov 2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterparts from Egypt and Jordan on Saturday agreed on the need to do more to protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza, but a clear point of division emerged on the question of a possible ceasefire.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, left, and Jordanian
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, left, and Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi arrive to attend a press conference in Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. AP

 

Though the Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers urged an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, Blinken took the position that this would be counterproductive and made clear the furthest he would go was supporting a humanitarian pause to give time for humanitarian supplies to be delivered and to evacuate civilians from Gaza.

“It is our view now that a ceasefire would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on Oct. 7,” Blinken said at the news conference after the talks, referring to Hamas' Al-Aqsa Flood operation that was followed by the Israeli war on Gaza.

Speaking at a news conference in Amman, Blinken reaffirmed US support for "humanitarian pauses" in the Israeli war on Gaza to ensure people in the besieged Gaza Strip get help, insisting that "Israel has the right to defend itself". 

Blinken said: "The United States believes that all of these efforts will be facilitated by humanitarian pauses."

He went on to say that seeing a Palestinian child pulled from the wreckage "hit me in the gut".

"What we have to do is to prevent the dehumanization of one other," Blinken tells reporters.

"When we don't do that, we do Hamas's work for them," he adds.

Blinken says the US believes all of these efforts would be facilitated by "humanitarian pauses".

He says he discussed how, when and where these could be implemented and what needs to be done to make them possible with Israeli officials yesterday.

Blinken said that he shares the same "interest and objective" with his Egyptian counterpart, which is to end the conflict "in a way that ensures lasting peace."

He thanked Egypt for all their work in facilitating aid delivery to Gaza and treating the injured, noting that more always needs to be done.

He added that the US' focus remains on recovering the hostages still being held by Hamas.

Double standards

From his side, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry warned against "double standards" during his talks with Antony Blinken.

Shoukry claimed that some countries are more hesitant to condemn the targeting of civilians and violations of international humanitarian law "when things are related to the Palestinian cause... as if Arab blood is worth less than the blood of other people".

He said Egypt is exerting all efforts to deliver aid and treat wounded Gazans.

Shoukry also reiterated the Arab nations' call for an unconditional, "immediate and intensive" ceasefire in Gaza.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman El-Safadi spoke highly of his talks with Arab and US diplomats, but observed that the "whole region is sinking in a sea of hatred that will define generations to come".

"This is already starting to manifest itself in expressions and acts of hate in the region and, to be honest in the deplorable acts and expressions of Islamophobia and anti-semitism - and that's something that we all stand against unequivocally, on principle and in accordance with our human values," said El-Safadi.

He emphasized that "this is not a religious war; it is not a war between Muslims and Jews," and that "all human values dictate that we work together for peace".

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