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Blinken goes to the Middle East to pressure Israel for a ceasefire in Gaza

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Middle East next week, the US State Department said on Friday (7), as Washington tries to pressure Israel and Hamas to accept a ceasefire proposal that US President Joe Biden presented it last week.

In his eighth visit to the region since Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7, the top US diplomat will visit Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Qatar and meet with their leaders.

Blinken’s visit comes after Biden presented a new ceasefire plan to end the eight-month war and at a time when tensions between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah have risen in recent days, with both sides signaling willingness for a greater confrontation.

“The secretary will discuss how the proposed ceasefire would benefit both Israelis and Palestinians,” the State Department said in a statement. “He will emphasize that this would alleviate suffering in Gaza, enable a massive increase in humanitarian assistance and allow Palestinians to return to their neighborhoods.”

Negotiations mediated by Egypt, Qatar and others to arrange a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza war have repeatedly stalled, with each side blaming the other for the lack of progress.

The ceasefire, according to the State Department, would also open the possibility of achieving calm along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and establish conditions for greater integration between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

“The secretary will also continue to reiterate the need to prevent the conflict from escalating further,” he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday (5) that Israel was prepared for strong action in the north. He warned in December that Beirut would be turned “into Gaza” if Hezbollah launched an all-out war.

The war between Israel and Hamas began when Palestinian fighters led by Hamas attacked southern Israel from Gaza, killing more than 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli records.

Israel’s air and ground campaign in Gaza has left the territory in ruins, led to widespread famine and killed more than 36,000 people, according to Palestinian health officials.

While in Jordan, Blinken will attend a conference on the humanitarian response to Gaza, the department said.

Source: CNN Brasil

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