Blinken announced this proposal, which is linked to the release of the hostages, during his sixth trip to the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas began

US introduces UN resolution calling for Gaza ceasefire

El príncipe heredero de Arabia Saudí, Mohamed bin Salman, se reúne con el secretario de Estado de Estados Unidos, Antony Blinken, en Jeddah el 20 de marzo de 2024 - Evelyn Hockstein / AFP
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jeddah on 20 March 2024 - Evelyn Hockstein / AFP

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is once again in the Middle East to push for a truce between Israel and Hamas. Blinken's visit to the region - the sixth since the war began - began in Saudi Arabia, from where he announced that Washington has submitted a resolution to the UN demanding an immediate ceasefire.  

  1. The future of Gaza and Rafah were key issues during Blinken's regional trip
  2. Ceasefire talks continue 
  3. Israel presses Hamas in al-Shifa 

This truce proposal, addressed to the Security Council, is "linked to the release of the hostages", according to Blinken, who also expressed his hope that many countries would support it. 

During the past months of war, Israel's main ally, the United States, has vetoed UN Security Council votes on the conflict. However, Washington has recently stepped up pressure on Jerusalem, while continuing to insist on the release of the more than 100 Israeli hostages held by Hamas. 

"Of course we support Israel and its right to defend itself," Blinken stressed, noting also that it is "imperative" to protect and provide humanitarian assistance to civilians who are in danger and suffering "so terribly". 

Days before his regional trip, Blinken warned of the "horrific humanitarian situation in Gaza", noting that "100% of the population in Gaza faces severe levels of acute food insecurity". "This is the first time that an entire population has been so classified," Blinken said in the Philippines during a tour of Asia. 

In the Kingdom, Blinken met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, with whom he discussed "the urgent need" to protect civilians and deliver humanitarian aid.   

During Blinken's visit, Riyadh announced that it would donate $40 million to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, an organisation targeted by Israel because of its links to Hamas and other terrorist groups in the enclave.  

The future of Gaza and Rafah were key issues during Blinken's regional trip

As the State Department said in a statement, in both Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where he arrives today, Blinken will put on the table a "post-war political path for the Palestinian people with security guarantees for Israel and an architecture for lasting peace and security in the region"

Washington has been working for months on a post-war plan for Gaza with its allies in the region. The US hopes that the Palestinian Authority will take over the Palestinian enclave with regional assistance once Hamas is eliminated and the conflict ends.

In addition to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Blinken will also visit Israel, where he will stress the need to ensure the defeat of Hamas, "including in Rafah", said US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. 

PHOTO/AFP/MOHAMMED ABED - Camiones cargados de combustible entran en la Franja de Gaza a través del paso fronterizo de Rafah con Egipto
Fuel-laden trucks enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt - PHOTO/AFP/MOHAMMED ABED 

The US initially opposed Israel's plan to launch a ground offensive in Rafah - considered the last bastion of Hamas - because of the large number of Gazan refugees from other parts of the enclave who have found refuge in the town on the border with Egypt. Washington is now pushing for a "more limited" operation in Rafah as well as other parts of Gaza against Hamas military leaders. 

Israel, for its part, has said it will develop plans to evacuate and protect civilians as it plans the military operation in the city, where an estimated 1.5 million people are displaced from other parts of Gaza. "The IDF has prepared for the operational part and for the evacuation of the civilian population," a statement from the prime minister's office said. 

Ceasefire talks continue 

Blinken's visit comes in parallel with diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement between Israel and Hamas. In this sense, the head of US diplomacy has assured that the gaps between Jerusalem and the terrorist group "are narrowing", so he believes it is "very possible" to reach a pact that includes a ceasefire and the release of the hostages.  

Negotiations for a truce intensified before Ramadan and a solid proposal was even drafted. However, Hamas did not accept it and made further demands, such as the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, which Jerusalem does not contemplate since one of the main objectives of the current offensive is to eliminate Hamas completely from the Palestinian enclave.  

PHOTO/Fuerzas de Defensa de Israel - El ministro de Defensa de Israel, Yoav Gallant, en un túnel de Hamás en Gaza
Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant at a Hamas tunnel in Gaza - PHOTO/Israel Defence Forces 

"If Hamas cares at all about the people it claims to represent, then it would reach an agreement because that would have the immediate effect of a ceasefire, would alleviate the tremendous suffering of the people, would provide more humanitarian assistance and would give us a chance to achieve something more lasting," Blinken said. 

Israel presses Hamas in al-Shifa 

Despite the progress, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh has accused Israel of sabotaging the negotiations after launching a military operation at al-Shifa hospital, a compound used by Hamas for military purposes, from Qatar.  

During this raid, the IDF arrested several senior officials of the terrorist group, arrests which, according to army chief of staff Herzi Halevi, are "very important to put pressure on Hamas" and to "put pressure on negotiations".  

Among those arrested is Mahmoud Kawasme, a Hamas member who directed terrorist activities in the West Bank, including the kidnapping and murder of Israeli youths Gil-ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel in 2014.