US Secretary of State Antony Blinken signals the US still is not joining calls for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
Blinken’s stand comes despite growing pressure from the United States’ UN Security Council partners, some Democrats and others from President Joe Biden’s administration and other international leaders to wade more deeply into diplomacy to end the worst Israel-Palestinian violence in years.
Israel’s leaders have indicated that they are not seeking a ceasefire at this stage, preferring to give the IDF additional time to proceed with what IDF chief Aviv Kohavi on Sunday called a pre-prepared “phased plan” to weaken Hamas that it began implementing after Hamas initiated the conflict when firing at Jerusalem last Monday.
Speaking in Copenhagen, where Blinken is making an unrelated tour of Nordic countries this week, Blinken ticked off US outreach so far to try to de-escalate hostilities in the Gaza Strip and Israel, and said he would be making more calls Monday.
“In all of these engagements we have made clear that we are prepared to lend our support and good offices to the parties should they seek a ceasefire,” Blinken said.
He said he welcomed efforts by the UN — where the United States has so far blocked a proposed Security Council statement on the fighting — and other nations working for a ceasefire.
“Any diplomatic initiative that advances that prospect is something that we’ll support,” he said. “And we are again willing and ready to do that. But ultimately it is up to the parties to make clear that they want to pursue a ceasefire.”
Blinken also tweeted after talks with Jordan’s foreign minister about the “urgency of working towards a sustainable calm.”
Spoke today with Jordan's Foreign Minister @AymanHsafadi to discuss our shared concerns about the violence in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza. We agreed on the urgency of working towards a sustainable calm. Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in safety and security.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 17, 2021
On Sunday, Blinken had tweeted that “all parties need to deescalate tensions – the violence must end immediately.”
Spoke today with Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry to discuss the ongoing violence in Israel, West Bank, and Gaza. All parties need to deescalate tensions – the violence must end immediately.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 16, 2021
AP, ToI staff