Blinken Visits Netanyahu To Secure A Cease-Fire And Halt Rafah Invasion

( – Israel took the offensive against Hamas immediately after the militant group launched a surprise attack last fall. Over the past several months, facing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the West has unsuccessfully tried to broker a ceasefire. Recently, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to try to dissuade the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from another invasion and to negotiate a ceasefire to get much-needed aid into the strip.

Blinken and Netanyahu met on Wednesday, May 1, as part of the Secretary of State’s three-day trip spanning three countries. The two sat down for approximately 2.5 hours, and the meeting included several other high-ranking US officials.

Arab mediators had previously presented Hamas with a ceasefire deal in which the militant group would release its Israeli hostages. Blinken believed the temporary truce would prove beneficial and give the West “something to build on.” He stressed that the cards were in Hamas’ hands and that they should take the deal.

However, Hamas wanted an agreement that Israel would permanently end the fighting, something to which Netanyahu refused to agree. He’s remained steadfast in that his goal was to eliminate Hamas from Gaza completely.

Blinken’s meeting came the day after Netanyahu vowed to enter Rafah. The Israeli leader was no longer feeling the significant amount of pressure he felt weeks ago. Moreover, he believes sweeping Rafah is necessary to eradicate the militant group. The White House is continuing efforts to dissuade Netanyahu, with President Joe Biden publicly rebuking and warning him about his hardline stance.

The US is against Israel’s planned invasion of Rafah without a concrete plan regarding how to manage the nearly 1 million Palestinian refugees who fled there because they had nowhere else to go. State Department officials have yet to see an effective plan. However, Biden and Blinken acknowledge that “the only obstacle to an immediate ceasefire and relief for [Gaza] civilians” is Hamas itself.

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