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Blinken hopes for progress on Gaza at UN Security Council

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during his end-of-year news conference
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during his end-of-year news conference - Copyright AFP/File THOPSON
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during his end-of-year news conference - Copyright AFP/File THOPSON

Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced guarded hope Wednesday that the United States would be able to support a new UN Security Council resolution on Gaza, with a sticking point on access for aid.

The United States, Israel’s critical ally, has vetoed two resolutions at the Security Council as it rejected calls on Israel to end its military campaign launched in response to the October 7 attack by Hamas.

Blinken, addressing reporters in Washington, said that the United States was engaging “in very good faith” with other countries, after fury in the Arab world over the vetoes.

“We’ve been working this intensely. I’ve been on the phones about this for the last couple of days,” Blinken said.

“I hope we can get to a good place,” he said.

The latest version of the draft resolution, led by the United Arab Emirates, stops short of using the word ceasefire and focuses instead on humanitarian access into the beleaguered Gaza Strip, where 85 percent of the population has been displaced.

Blinken indicated that the humanitarian issue was the sticking point, with Israel insisting on full control of supplies that enter the blockaded Palestinian territory.

“The purpose of the resolution as stated by the countries that put it forward is to facilitate and help expand humanitarian assistance that’s getting into Gaza. And we fully support that,” Blinken said.

“We want to make sure that the resolution in what it calls for and requires actually advances that effort and doesn’t do anything that could actually hurt the delivery of humanitarian assistance, make it more complicated,” he said.

Blinken argued that the United States has through its diplomacy made progress in recent days, including through the arrival of commercial trucks and the opening of a second crossing into Gaza.

– ‘Gut-wrenching’ –

Hamas infiltrated into Israel on October 7 and killed around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures. 

Israel responded with a relentless air and ground campaign. The Hamas government’s media office in the Gaza Strip said Wednesday at least 20,000 people have been killed, among them 8,000 children and 6,200 women. 

Blinken, responding to criticism that the United States is isolated in its support for Israel, renewed calls on Israel to “minimize the harm” to civilians but said there also needed to be pressure on Hamas.

“The last couple of months have been gut-wrenching. You see the suffering of men, women and especially children in Gaza,” Blinken said.

“That affects each of us. It affects me very, very deeply.”

But Blinken deplored what he called “silence on what Hamas could do, should do, must do if we want to end the suffering of innocent men, women and children.”

“It would be good if the world could unite around that proposition as well.”

Blinken also voiced hope for a new pause in fighting to free hostages, as Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo on Wednesday for talks.

“We remain very actively engaged in seeing if we can get a pause back on and hostages moving out again,” Blinken said.

During a week-long truce late last month brokered by Qatar with the help of the United States and Egypt, 80 Israeli hostages were freed in exchange for 240 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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