Blinken meets Netanyahu, after talks with Herzog; says he hopes hostage releases continue

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, meets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, November 30, 2023. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, meets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, November 30, 2023. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who arrived in Israel overnight, is currently meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

He is also set to sit in on a meeting of the war cabinet.

Earlier, the secretary met in Tel Aviv with President Isaac Herzog, soon after the deadly terror attack in Jerusalem.

“This is another example of the situation we’re in, the endless war that we are fighting against terror organizations, especially Hamas, in these very complicated and challenging times,” Herzog said.

He also said Israel is “working, praying for and demanding the immediate release of all hostages, and I thank the United States of America for the immense work it is devoting to the release of the hostages.”

President Isaac Herzog (right) meets with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Tel Aviv on November 30, 2023 (Haim Zach / GPO)

The president cited the plight of the Bibas family, who were abducted on October 7. “Their whereabouts are unknown to us and we are demanding their immediate release. It should be obvious that little toddlers will be released with their mother and hopefully with a father as soon as possible.”

Herzog also eulogized Henry Kissinger, “who left us peacefully tonight. We are big admirers” of Kissinger, he said. “He laid the cornerstone of the peace agreement which was later signed with an Egypt… In our last conversation he ended the call by saying, ‘Mr. President, please know I’ve always loved and admired and supported the State of Israel’. And so I always felt his love and compassion for Israel and his belief in the Jewish state.”

Blinken, in turn, mourned the victims of the Jerusalem terror attack. “My heart goes out to the victims of this attack… e’re thinking of them, we’re thinking of their families, their loved ones, and we mourn their loss just as we mourn the loss of any innocent life.

“From day one, we have been focused on trying to secure the release of hostages from Gaza, from Hamas,” Blinken said. “And we have seen over the last week the very positive developments of hostages coming home and being reunited with their families, and that should continue today. It’s also enabled the increase in humanitarian assistance to go to innocent civilians in Gaza who need it desperately. So this process is producing results. It’s important and we hope that it can continue.”

Added Blinken: “At the same time I look forward to detailed conversations with the government of Israel about the way ahead in Gaza. The United States firmly supports Israel and its right to defend itself and to try to ensure that October 7 never happens again.”

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