Israel-Hamas war, Gaza hostage release and sustained cessation proposal


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Israel Wednesday for meetings with key government officials to press for a “humanitarian pause” as international and domestic US pressure mounts to end the conflict in Gaza.

The stakes for a crucial day of discussions in Tel Aviv were made even higher by news on Tuesday that Hamas has responded to a proposal meant to secure the freedom of the remaining hostages held by the terrorist group and a sustained cessation of the fighting in Gaza. Blinken said Tuesday he would discuss the counterproposal with Israeli officials.

Blinken is expected to meet, as he has on his past visits to Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top officials in the Israeli war cabinet.

In those meetings, Blinken is expected to focus on pushing Israel toward a “humanitarian pause,” as the Biden administration calls it, as such a suspension of the fighting is central to the objectives the US is pushing for both the short- and longer-term.

The conversations are not expected to be easy. Netanyahu on Monday again rejected the idea of a ceasefire, saying the offensive would continue until Hamas’ leadership was killed. Throughout the course of the conflict, it has taken intense, sustained pressure from the United States to get Israeli officials to shift their positions on things like allowing aid into Gaza.

Read more about the talks.

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