Blinken, Sisi Discuss Gaza Ceasefire Proposal as Israel Continues Bombardment

Mon Jun 10 2024
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CAIRO: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo at the start of a regional tour to push for a much-awaited Gaza ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas, AFP reported.

The closed-door meeting, also attended by Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, discussed efforts to broker a ceasefire and facilitate a potential hostage-prisoner exchange, according to a statement from the presidency.

Egypt has been actively engaged in mediation efforts alongside the United States and Qatar, aimed at resolving the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Despite continued diplomatic efforts, attempts to secure a permanent ceasefire have faced setbacks.

Speaking to reporters before departing Cairo for his next destination, Jerusalem, Blinken said his discussions with President Sisi were productive. “My message to governments throughout the region… if you want a ceasefire, press Hamas to say yes,” he told reporters.

Blinken emphasized the need for regional leaders to exert pressure on Hamas to accept the proposed truce deal. The top US diplomat underscored the urgency of delivering humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

“I believe strongly… that the overwhelming majority of people, whether they’re in Israel, the West Bank, in Gaza… actually want to believe in a future where Israelis and Palestinians would live in peace and security.”

Blinken’s visit to the region aims to rally support for a ceasefire proposal announced by US President Joe Biden on May 31. The truce proposal envisions an initial cessation of hostilities for six weeks, during which Israel would withdraw from Gaza, and Hamas would release hostages. Negotiations would then continue to achieve a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

However, Hamas has yet to formally respond to the proposed ceasefire plan, insisting on a permanent ceasefire and complete withdrawal of Israeli forces.

While Biden has declared the ceasefire proposal as an Israeli initiative, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has remained steadfast to continue military operations until all of Israel’s objectives are met.

Following his meeting with President Sisi, Blinken is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and other key stakeholders in Jerusalem. Subsequent stops on Blinken’s itinerary include Jordan and Qatar, where he will continue diplomatic engagements aimed at facilitating a durable ceasefire and addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces continued relentless air strikes and ground invasion in Gaza. Since October 7 last year, Israel has launched a relentless bombardment campaign in Gaza killing at least 37,124 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry.

Palestinian residents said that Israeli tanks attempted to advance further into Gaza early Monday, targeting densely populated areas such as Shaboura.

Israeli forces have already seized Gaza’s border strip with Egypt and invaded various districts of the city, leading to mass displacement of residents.

A senior Hamas official has urged the United States to use its influence to halt the ongoing Israeli violence in Gaza.

“We call upon the US administration to put pressure on the occupation to stop the war on Gaza,” said senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri, expressing Hamas’ willingness to engage positively with any initiative to halt the conflict.

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