US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is ramping up his diplomatic efforts to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from escalating further by calling for the protection of civilians in the Gaza Strip and Israel. In his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Blinken met with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh and discussed ways to address the growing humanitarian crisis and facilitate safe passage for those trapped in the conflict zone.
The Biden administration has expressed its concern about the number of civilians at risk and the potential ramifications of a prolonged war. During his meetings with Saudi and UAE leaders, Blinken emphasized the need for humanitarian assistance and safe passage for those wishing to leave Gaza. It is feared that an Israeli ground assault would worsen the already dire conditions faced by civilians in Gaza, who are lacking access to basic necessities such as power, fresh water, and aid.
In addition to his meetings with Saudi and UAE officials, Blinken also reached out to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, seeking China’s help in preventing the war from spreading. He stressed the importance of minimizing harm to civilians and condemned the targeting of civilians by both sides.
Although the US did not ask Israel to slow or postpone its evacuation plan, Blinken highlighted the importance of prioritizing the safety of civilians. An agreement in principle had been reached between Egypt, Israel, and Qatar to allow Palestinian Americans and other dual citizens in Gaza to cross the Rafah border into Egypt. However, as of now, there have been no signs of them being allowed through by sunset.
Amidst the escalating violence, the US State Department has authorized the departure of nonemergency US government personnel and their families from the American Embassy in Jerusalem. This move is aimed at ensuring their safety in a volatile situation.
Prince Faisal, during his meeting with Blinken, stressed the need to end the violence between Israel and Hamas, highlighting that civilians always suffer the most in such conflicts. Blinken also visited the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi, a symbol of interfaith unity, where he signed a tile with the words “Light in the Darkness.”
Blinken’s diplomatic efforts continue as he plans to return to Saudi Arabia and visit Egypt on Sunday, following his earlier visits to Israel, Jordan, Qatar, and Bahrain. These visits aim to find a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis and alleviate the suffering of civilians caught in the crossfire.
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