Blinken due in Israel for tough Gaza talks

AFP , Monday 8 Jan 2024

Top US diplomat Antony Blinken is due in Israel on Monday for difficult talks on the Israeli war on Gaza as fears grow that the conflict could engulf the wider region.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks on as he arrives in Abu Dhabi. AFP


Speaking in Qatar on Sunday, Blinken said that Palestinians displaced by the now four-month-old war must be allowed to "return home", while warning that the violence could "easily metastasize" into a regional conflict.

Since the start of the war, violence has escalated in the occupied West Bank and on Israel's northern border with Lebanon, while Yemen's Houthi rebels have launched more than 100 drone and missile strikes towards targets in the Red Sea and Israel.

On his fourth tour of the region since the war began, the US secretary of state was scheduled to visit the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Monday before arriving in Israel, where he will hold talks with Israeli leaders on Tuesday.

The United States is Israel's main ally and provides it with billions of dollars in military aid, but it says grown increasingly concerned over the mounting civilian death toll in the war, despite blocking UN Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire.

Washington has said that Blinken will press Israel on its compliance with international humanitarian law and ask for "immediate measures" to boost aid to Gaza.

At least 85 per cent of Gaza's 2.4 million people have been displaced by fighting, according to UN figures.

Israel has killed more than 22,800 Palestinians, with the wast majority being children and women, and injured more than 58,000 since the war began.


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