US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets President Isaac Herzog at his residence in Jerusalem to discuss the proposed hostage deal and Hamas’s response and says “there’s a lot of work to be done” before a deal is reached.
“We’re looking at it intensely,” Blinken says of the proposal, “as is, I know, the Government of Israel, and there’s a lot of work to be done, but we are very much focused on doing that work and hopefully, being able to resume the release of hostages that was interrupted so many months ago.”
“We are yearning and praying for the immediate release of our hostages,” says Herzog. “We want to see them back as soon as possible. The situation is dire. And clearly, Hamas is violating every rule of human behavior in this respect.”
Herzog also emphasizes that Israel is following international humanitarian law and is facilitating the entry of aid into Gaza, an issue over which the Biden administration has been pressing Israel.
“We’ve made it clear in the International Court of Justice in the Hague,” he continued, “we made it clear at all forums that are relevant to this question and as such, we of course condemn and reject any call for hurting or damaging any civilian population anywhere, let alone of course, in this conflict.”
Blinken blames civilian deaths and suffering in Gaza squarely on Hamas.
“There are so many innocent men, women, and children who are suffering as a result of the attacks perpetrated by Hamas, and now being caught in a crossfire of Hamas’s making,” he tells Herzog.
Blinken also sounds an optimistic note about the chances for normalization with Saudi Arabia: “I’ve heard, including in Saudi Arabia, as well as in other places, in Egypt and Qatar, and I do believe that there is a very positive, powerful future that is possible, that genuinely integrates Israel into the region and addresses its most profound security needs to be able to live in peace and genuine security, and also answers the aspirations of the Palestinian people.”