United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank on Sunday. This meeting comes after Arab leaders publicly called on Blinken to pressure Israel for a ceasefire as the death toll nears 10,000. The increasing number of casualties has intensified scrutiny on the US’s diplomatic efforts among its Arab allies, who have become increasingly frustrated with the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza. Israel, continuing its military offensive, carried out air raids on Saturday that resulted in the deaths of more than 50 people. During a news conference in Amman, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi emphasized the urgent need for a ceasefire, warning that the entire region is being engulfed in hatred that will leave a lasting impact for generations to come. He criticized Israel’s month-long assault on Gaza, which has claimed the lives of at least 9,488 Palestinians, including a significant number of children, stating that it cannot be justified under any circumstances and will not bring security to Israel or peace to the region.
In a rare public disagreement with his Jordanian counterpart, Blinken stated that the US opposes a ceasefire as it would allow Hamas to regroup and launch further attacks. He referred to an attack by Hamas on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of around 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians, as cited by Israeli officials. Blinken, who is on his third visit to the region in a month, has been trying to navigate a delicate diplomatic situation. He urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to a temporary “humanitarian pause” and emphasized the need to protect Palestinian civilians, while also facing pressure from Arab leaders calling for a complete ceasefire. However, Arab leaders deemed Blinken’s call for a “humanitarian pause” insufficient, and Netanyahu dismissed it, asserting that Israel’s offensive must continue at full force. Israel reinforced this stance by bombing several United Nations-run schools and refugee centers during Blinken’s visit, including the recent strike on the Maghazi refugee camp, resulting in the deaths of at least 47 people.
Anwar Gargash, diplomatic advisor to the UAE president, expressed concern that if the crisis continues and the humanitarian situation worsens, the US’s role in the region will be seen as ineffective. Commenting on Blinken’s repeated rejection of a ceasefire, political analyst Azmi Bishara accused him of endorsing a stance that advocates for continued conflict. Bishara argued that a “humanitarian pause” simply allows for renewed bombing, and questioned how this could bring peace or restore credibility while the bloodshed continues. Blinken’s meeting with Abbas in Ramallah posed another diplomatic challenge, as he suggested the idea of the Palestinian Authority (PA) assuming governance and security responsibilities in Gaza as a potential solution to the conflict. Blinken is also scheduled to visit Turkey and meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, though tensions between the two countries have escalated due to Erdogan’s strong pro-Palestine stance and criticism of Israel’s conduct during the war.