Blinken tells Netanyahu US still opposes Rafah operation

AFP , Wednesday 1 May 2024

Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated US opposition to an Israeli assault on the crowded Gaza city of Rafah in talks Wednesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has vowed to press ahead, a US official said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to families and supporters of Israeli captives held by Hamas in Gaza during a protest calling for their return, after meeting families of captives in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. AP


Blinken "reiterated the United States' clear position on Rafah," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, two days after Blinken again voiced opposition to an assault over concerns for the safety of civilians sheltering in the southern Gaza city.

Blinken, on his seventh trip to the Middle East since the war on Gaza began, met Netanyahu for two and a half hours at his Jerusalem office, first alone and then with aides.

The US top diplomat has been hoping to push forward an Israel-Hamas deal that will see a temporary halt to fighting and the release of captives.

Netanyahu had vowed Tuesday to go into Rafah even if a deal is reached.

Blinken discussed the deal with Netanyahu and said "It is Hamas that is standing in the way of a ceasefire", Miller said.

Blinken has also been pushing for more aid to enter Gaza, where the United Nations has warned of impending famine.

Blinken acknowledged that aid deliveries had increased since Israel agreed under US pressure last month to reopen additional routes into the besieged territory.

He "reiterated the importance of accelerating and sustaining that improvement," Miller said.


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