Antony Blinken and Benjamin Netanyahu
Antony Blinken and Benjamin NetanyahuDavid Azagury, U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

Following his meeting with the families of the American hostages in Gaza, Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, held a press conference saying, “Meeting with the hostages’ families, as always, is an incredibly powerful thing. They were delighted to hear of the rescue of four hostages a few days ago, but they continue to suffer this enduring separation from their loved ones – men and women, civilian and soldier, alive and deceased. We are determined to bring all of the hostages home, but especially our eight Americans, who are still in Gaza.

Secretary Blinken mentioned the proposal that President Biden put forward, “Which has had overwhelming support from countries around the world, and even the United Nations Security Council, in effect speaking for the entire international community, made it as clear as it possibly could be that this is what the world is looking for. Fourteen votes for, no votes against.”

“So,” said Blinken, everyone’s vote is in, except for one vote, and that’s Hamas. And that’s what we are waiting for. It is on Hamas to accept this proposal, or not. And, as I said, it’s very clear what the entire international community and, of course, so many families, want to see. And it’s also what the people of Gaza so desperately need. We have the prospect of an immediate ceasefire, aiming to establish a lasting peace, offering significant relief to the populace of Gaza. This also presents an opportunity for Israel to ensure its long-term security, a fundamental aspiration since its independence, fostering neighborly relations with the nations surrounding it. Moreover, it allows for the resettlement of evacuees from the north, paving the way for a future ensuring long term security that Israel has long sought.

Blinken said that he, “Met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who reaffirmed his commitment to the proposal, and with Defense Minister Gallant and other senior Israelis, who all agree that it’s time to move forward with the proposal, but it really is down to one person.”

Blinken reassured that “President Biden is resolutely committed to Israel’s security and defense. Being the first American president to come to Israel during a time of war, the first American president to commit American forces to help defend Israel when it was under attack from Iran in April, the US is committed to the defeat of Hamas, to ensure that it can’t govern Gaza again.”

He added that, “While military means have been necessary, they’re not sufficient, and there has to be a clear political plan, a clear humanitarian plan, in order to ensure that Hamas does not resume control of Gaza, so that Israel can move forward toward more enduring security.”

Blinken concluded, saying, “We await the answer from Hamas, and that will speak volumes about what they want, what they’re looking for, who they’re looking after. One guy who may be pronounced safe, buried some ten stories underground somewhere in Gaza, or the people that he purports to represent who continue to suffer in a crossfire of his own making. Or will he do what’s necessary to actually move this to a better place, to help end the suffering of people, to bring real security to Israelis and Palestinians alike? We’ll see.