US Pushes For Gaza Cease-Fire With Middle East Talks, UN Resolution


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Middle Eastern leaders on Monday to press Hamas to agree to a cease-fire proposal to stop the fighting in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has scheduled a vote for Monday afternoon on a U.S. draft resolution which supports a proposal for a full and immediate cease-fire, along with the release of hostages.

Blinken said that Hamas is the only “outlier” not accepting the three-phase deal, a proposal to which Israel has already agreed.

“The best way to ensure that there’s not another civilian casualty is for the cease-fire deal to go forward, for Hamas to accept it. It’s as basic and as simple as that,” Blinken told reporters in Cairo.

“Our Egyptian counterparts were in communication with Hamas as early as recently as a few hours ago,” said Blinken. “I think Egypt, the United States, other countries, believe that, again, we should be able to get to yes.”

Blinken returned to the Middle East on Monday, marking his eighth diplomatic mission to the region since the military conflict in Gaza began last October.

On Monday, Blinken held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant after meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo. The top U.S. diplomat’s trip will also take him to Qatar and to Jordan, where he will attend a conference focused on humanitarian aid for Gaza.

During his talks with Netanyahu, Blinken emphasized the importance of efforts to provide long-term peace, security and stability to Israelis and Palestinians alike.

The State Department said Blinken also reiterated that the proposal on the table “would unlock the possibility of calm along Israel’s northern border and further integration with countries in the region.”

Earlier on Monday, Blinken and el-Sissi “continued discussions on plans for post-conflict governance, security, and reconstruction in Gaza, which the cease-fire proposal would advance. They also discussed the importance of reopening the Rafah border crossing and the need to protect Palestinian civilians and humanitarian workers,” according to the State Department.

U.S. officials have said Israel would accept the cease-fire proposal, which calls for an initial halt in fighting, the release of some hostages from Gaza, the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, a surge in humanitarian aid for Palestinians, Israeli troops withdrawing from populated areas of Gaza and the return of Palestinian civilians to their homes and neighborhoods.

Hamas has not accepted or rejected the plan, which U.S. President Joe Biden publicly detailed more than a week ago.

The draft U.N. Security Council resolution seeks to add pressure on Hamas, while urging both Hamas and Israel to fully implement the cease-fire deal “without delay and without condition,” according to the text seen by VOA.

“Israel has accepted this proposal, and the Security Council has an opportunity to speak with one voice and call on Hamas to do the same,” the U.S. Mission to the United Nations said in a statement late Sunday. “Doing so would help save lives and [end] the suffering of civilians in Gaza as well as the hostages and their families. Council Members should not let this opportunity to pass by and must speak with one voice in support of this deal.”

A vote on the resolution has been scheduled at 3 p.m. (ET) on Monday.

U.S. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Robert Wood told reporters the U.S. wants to “get a resolution that, in essence, codifies” the cease-fire proposal.

A second phase of the proposed cease-fire agreement envisions a permanent cessation of hostilities, the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops and the return of all remaining hostages. A final phase includes a multiyear reconstruction effort in the Gaza Strip, much of which has been devastated by eight months of Israeli bombardment.

Air drops of aid resume

The U.S. military on Sunday resumed air drops of humanitarian aid to the northern Gaza Strip after pausing that method of delivery in late May due to what the military said were adverse weather conditions and Israeli military operations in the area.

The resumption of air drops followed the U.S. military’s announcement that it had completed repairs to a temporary pier on the Gaza coast that broke after two weeks of bringing in truckloads of aid by sea.

World Food Program chief Cindy McCain said Sunday the organization was pausing its work distributing aid brought in at the pier, telling the CBS “Face the Nation” show that she was “concerned about the safety of our people.” McCain said two of the agency’s warehouses had been hit by rockets.

“We’ve stepped back for the moment,” McCain said, and want “to make sure that we’re on safe terms and on safe ground before we’ll restart. But the rest of the country is operational. We’re doing … everything we can in the north and the south.”

The World Food Program last week reiterated its calls for better aid access, including Israel facilitating supply deliveries coming in through the Kerem Shalom crossing, and for humanitarian organizations to have “safe and unhindered access to reach all civilians in need across Gaza.”

The October 7 Hamas terror attack resulted in the deaths of about 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to official Israeli figures. Hamas militants took about 250 hostages, 116 of whom remain in the Palestinian territory, including 41 the army says are dead.

Israel’s military response has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians in its figures.

VOA’s State Department Bureau Chief Nike Ching and U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report. 


The VOA is the Voice of America

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