US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are actively engaged in diplomatic efforts to address the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. Here are the key developments as of the weekend:
- President Joe Biden held conversations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He urged both leaders to permit humanitarian aid to reach the region and affirmed the United States’ support for efforts aimed at protecting civilians.
Diplomatic Outreach by Antony Blinken:
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken embarked on a diplomatic tour of the Middle East, making stops in Israel, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. His primary objectives include addressing the humanitarian crisis in the conflict and preventing the Israel-Hamas war from expanding.
Discussions with Saudi and UAE Leaders:
- Blinken met with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh, where the emphasis was on minimizing harm to civilians. Both countries expressed the importance of protecting civilians as Israel prepared for an expected incursion against Hamas.
Call with Chinese Foreign Minister:
- Blinken reached out to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, seeking China’s assistance in preventing the conflict from escalating. The United States requested that China use its influence in the Middle East to help achieve stability. The response from the Chinese Foreign Minister was not characterized in the statement.
Concerns for Civilians:
- The diplomatic efforts emphasize the critical importance of minimizing harm to civilians in both Israel and Gaza, as the conflict has intensified. The US is actively working to find ways to ensure the safety of civilians trapped in the conflict zone.
Humanitarian Crisis and Cross-Border Evacuation:
- As the situation remains dire, the US has worked on an agreement to allow foreigners in Gaza to cross the Rafah border into Egypt. This plan has faced challenges, with the crossing remaining blocked, and no indication of when it will be opened. There are an estimated 500 Americans living in Gaza, but precise numbers are difficult to determine.
Calls for an End to Violence:
- Both US and Middle Eastern leaders stress the imperative of ending the violence between Israel and Hamas. The suffering of civilians on both sides is a central concern, and concerted efforts are needed to find a way out of the cycle of violence.
Diplomatic efforts in the region reflect the international community’s concern about the escalating conflict and the need to protect civilian populations. The US is actively working with regional and international partners to address the humanitarian crisis and bring about a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Hamas war.