Hamas should take a decision on ceasefire… US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Israel's proposal


US Secretary of State Blinken told World Economic Forum (WEF) President Borge Brende in the Saudi capital Riyadh that at this time the only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire is Hamas. He said that Hamas will have to take a decision quickly. I hope they take the right decision.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (file photo)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday discussed the ceasefire proposal given by Israel to Hamas. Praising Israel, Blinken called this proposal generous and appealed to Hamas to take a decision. He told Borge Brende, president of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Saudi capital Riyadh, that at this moment the only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire is Hamas. He said that Hamas will have to take a decision quickly. I hope they take the right decision.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who was in Riyadh, shared similar sentiments and expressed hope that both Israel and Hamas would accept the proposal. Shoukry told a WEF panel in Riyadh on Monday that there is a proposal that both sides have to consider and accept. He said that hopefully the proposal has been considered and we are waiting for the final decision.

Armistice and Israel's withdrawal

Israeli officials indicated a willingness to engage in talks aimed at restoring lasting peace. Hamas has said that a permanent ceasefire and Israel's complete withdrawal are essential conditions for any agreement. In contrast, Israel has reaffirmed its commitment to continue its operations in Gaza until Hamas is eliminated.

Agreed on Hamas' demand

However, Israel recently agreed to Hamas's demand for unrestricted movement of Palestinians in northern Gaza, a significant concession to advance negotiations. Nevertheless, the threat of an Israeli military attack in Rafah remains a possibility. Israeli officials are framing the ongoing talks as a last chance to stop such actions.

Warning against military operations

In particular, the US, along with Israel's other allies, have warned against a major military operation in Rafah without adequate protection measures for civilians. Blinken reiterated this stance during his visit to Riyadh, emphasizing the US's reluctance to support such an attack in the absence of a concrete plan to protect civilians. He said that we have not yet seen any such plan which can effectively protect the citizens.

Rafa will not be attacked

Meanwhile, White House National Security Council communications adviser John Kirby echoed these sentiments. He revealed Israel's assurance that there will be no attack on Rafah until the concerns raised by the Biden administration are addressed.

He said that I think we should have a better understanding of the Israelis about what they want to do. We have had many staff conversations with them, we intend to do more. They have assured us that they will not go to Rafah until we have had the chance to really share our perspective and our concerns with them.

Need to increase humanitarian assistance

In a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Joe Biden stressed the need to increase humanitarian assistance. In this conversation, Biden reiterated his opposition to the possible Israeli attack on Rafah. Despite these diplomatic efforts, the death toll from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza continues to rise. According to reports, the casualties included infants and children, highlighting the devastating impact of the conflict on innocent civilians.