The following article, Blinken's Middle East Mission: Seeking Humanitarian Pause And Two-State Solution, was first published on Flag And Cross.
WASHINGTON — On November 3, the United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken began a diplomatic mission that accounted for a busy 72 hours in the Middle East. He made stops in Israel and Jordan with two surprise trips, one to Gaza and the other to Baghdad.
His mission was to find a diplomatic way for there to be a humanitarian pause to the fighting in the war between Israel and Hamas. Blinken thinks that a pause in the war allowing for increased humanitarian aid for Gaza in exchange for the immediate return of the over 240 hostages being held by Hamas, could be a deal he could broker.
Blinken also wanted to talk with the countries in the region about what is being called “The Morning After” plan. It is the framework of a future two-state solution for a peaceful way for Israel and the Palestinian people to live together after Hamas is defeated.
His first meeting was with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the war Cabinet in Tel Aviv talking about the proposal for a humanitarian pause in the war. The Prime Minister was clear that there would be no pause or cease fire until all hostages were returned to Israel.
After his meeting with Netanyahu, Blinken outlined for reporters the steps that he said must be taken to ensure an attack like that of Hamas on Israel on October 7, never happens again.
“We’ve been clear that as Israel conducts its campaign to defeat Hamas, how it does so matters. It matters because it’s the right and lawful thing to do. It matters because failure to do so plays into the hands of Hamas and other terror groups,” said Blinken.
The United States stands behind Israel’s right “and obligation” to defend itself, Blinken said, but he also called for Israel to pause military operations and allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza.
“I think we all share deep concern about the plight of civilians in Gaza – men, women and children,” he said. “We’ve worked very hard to make sure that that assistance can flow to them.” Blinken stateted.
On Saturday he was in Jordan to discuss a two-state solution and an end to the war . For that to work Blinken needs the help of the countries in the region to be part of multinational group that would govern Gaza in place of Hamas after the war.
Blinken had a day long meeting hosted by the Jordanian Foreign Minister that was attended by the top diplomats from Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, as well as the Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). In a joint press conference after the meeting, representatives of regional nations said that while they welcome a two state solution to the Israeli – Palestinian problem, there could be no real conversation of the future until Israel stops bombing Gaza.
Meanwhile, Blinken once again made it clear the United States is not pushing for a ceasefire in the war. “It is our view now that a cease-fire would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on Oct. 7,” he said. A temporary humanitarian pause in fighting would be critical to protecting civilians, getting aid in and getting foreign nationals out “while still enabling Israel to achieve its objective, the defeat of Hamas.”
Blinken said to his Arab colleagues at the press gathering, “We come together here today sharing the same fundamental interest and objective: To end this conflict in a way that ensures lasting peace and security in the region.”
“We may have different views and positions on certain necessary steps to achieve that objective, but today, we reaffirmed our individual commitments to continuing to work toward that end.”
“We all agreed on the importance of using our respective influence and capabilities to deter any state or non-state actor from opening another front in this conflict or taking other destabilizing actions,” Blinken continued.
Early on Sunday morning the Secretary of State was off to Ramallah on the West Bank to meet face to face with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Blinken’s goal was to inform the leader that the United States was committed to the safety of Gaza’s civilians and that Palestinians must have a say in whatever comes next for the territory after the conflict.
Finally, Blinken made a trip to Baghdad late on Sunday, showing support for Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Sudani and sending a message to Iran about the Biden administration’s commitment to defending its personnel in the region. He also made it very clear that the United States expects Iran will not get involved in the Israel – Hamas war.
For the United States Secretary of State it was 72 hours of diplomatic threading of the needle in hopes of finding a way to calm things down so as not to see an expansion of the war. Blinken was working with all of the players in the region and it is not likely that this will be his last trip to the Middle East.
(Additional reporting provided by Joseph Hammond)
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