Blinken asks Hamas to accept 'immediate ceasefire' with Israel

AFP , Tuesday 5 Mar 2024

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Tuesday on Hamas to accept an "immediate ceasefire" with Israel as the militants met Qatari and Egyptian mediators in Cairo.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani speak to the press in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington, DC, on March 5, 2024. AFP


"We have an opportunity for an immediate ceasefire that can bring hostages home, that can dramatically increase the amount of humanitarian assistance getting to Palestinians who so desperately need it, and can also set the conditions for an enduring resolution," Blinken said as he met the Qatari prime minister in Washington.

"It is on Hamas to make decisions about whether it is prepared to engage in that ceasefire," he said.

Qatar's Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, a key mediator on the deal, promised to be "persistent to make sure that this deal happens.

"Despite whoever is trying to undermine the efforts of bringing peace, we want to bring peace, we want to see an end of the humanitarian suffering, we want to see the hostages back with their families," he said.

Blinken also called on Israel to allow more aid into war-battered Gaza, where warnings have grown of famine and the United States has resorted to aid airdrops.

"Israel has to maximize every possible means, every possible method, of getting assistance to people who need it," Blinken said.

He called for Israel to open more crossings into Gaza and to ensure that aid can go to people in need.

"We will continue to press that every single day because the situation as it stands is simply not acceptable," Blinken said.

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