Blinken urges Israel and Hamas to close an agreement: “The time is now”

Blinken urges Israel and Hamas to close an agreement: “The time is now”
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United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli leaders this Wednesday with the purpose of promoting a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.

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In its seventh visit to the region Since the war broke out in October, Blinken said “now is the time” for a deal that would free the hostages and facilitate a pause in the nearly seven-month war in Gaza. He also said Hamas would be to blame for any failure to achieve a truce.

The current round of talks appears to be serious, but the parts they continue far away in a key issue: whether the war should end as part of an agreement.

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“We are determined to achieve a Stop the fire Bring the hostages home and get it now, and only reason why that would not be achieved is by Hamas fault“Blinken told Israeli President Isaac Herzog at a meeting in Tel Aviv. “There is a proposal on the table and, as we have said, there are no delays or excuses. The time is now,” he said.

Blinken added that the agreement would also allow the entry and distribution of food, medicine and water in Gaza, where the war has caused a serious humanitarian crisis and has displaced a large part of the territory’s population.

After meeting with Herzog and also with families of Americans held by Hamas, Blinken briefly greeted several dozen protesters who asked for an immediate agreement hostage release on the sidewalk.

Chanting “SOS, USA, only you can save the day” and “in Blinken we trust, bring them home to us,” protesters urged him to present their case to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Blinken will meet with Netanyahu and his War Cabinet this Wednesday.

Blinken also said at hostage families that freeing his loved ones was “at the center of everything we are trying to do.”

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His comments came in the last stage of your regional visitwith previous stops in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, where he urged Hamas to accept the latest proposal, calling it “extraordinarily generous” on Israel’s part.

Persistence of a conflict point in the negotiations

The United States has strongly supported the Israeli offensive on Gaza since Hamas’ unprecedented attack on October 7. But Washington has become increasingly critical of the alarming number of civilian casualties in Gaza and has been especially outspoken against Israel’s plan to invade Rafahthe southernmost city in the Strip, where around 1.5 million Palestinians take refuge from fighting elsewhere.

Netanyahu He has repeatedly promised to invade Rafah, which he says is the last Hamas stronghold in the Strip, and on Tuesday he promised to do so.with or without” a ceasefire agreement.

The current agreement that is being negotiated, with the intermediation of the United States, Egypt and Qatar, would contemplate the release of dozens of hostages in exchange for a six-week cessation of fighting as part of a initial phase, according to an Egyptian official and Israeli media. They would also be released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israelincluding some who are serving long sentences.

But there remains a hot spot about what will happen next. Hamas has demanded guarantees that an eventual release of all hostages will completely end Israel’s nearly seven-month attack on Gaza and a withdrawal of its troops from the devastated territory.

Israel has only offered a long pause and has promised resume your offensive once the first phase of the agreement ends. The issue has repeatedly obstructed mediators’ efforts during months of talks.

While the talks appeared to be gaining steam, an Egyptian source said Wednesday that Hamas had asked Egyptian and Qatari mediators to clarify the terms of the latest ceasefire proposal being discussed, a demand that could slow progress.

The Egyptian source cited by the AP, who has close ties to the talks and who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the deal freely, said Hamas wants clear terms for the deal. unconditional return of the displaced to the northern Gaza and to ensure that the second stage of the agreement will include discussing the gradual and complete withdrawal all israeli troops from the entire Gaza Strip. The source explained that the current agreement would not fully explain who will be allowed to return to the north and how it will be decided.

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