US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Tuesday began talks in Israel focusing on the future of the war on… Gaza And preventing the expansion of the conflict in the region, at a time when Israel spoke of a new phase in which military operations in the Strip would be less intense.
Today, Blinken met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, and later he will meet with his Israeli counterpart, Yisrael Katz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the War Council. He arrived yesterday evening in Tel Aviv on his fifth visit since the outbreak of war early last October, as part of a tour that also includes Turkey, Greece, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. The occupied West Bank and Egypt.
In conjunction with the start of the talks, the Associated Press quoted the US Secretary of State that the leaders of Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia agreed to help Gaza stabilize and recover and chart a future political path, and that these countries will consider participating in the “day after” the war in Gaza.
Blinken said that these leaders are ready to make the necessary commitments to make the difficult decisions and achieve all these goals, noting that he will present what he called the Arab commitments to Netanyahu, his war council, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before presenting them to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
He continued that everywhere he went, he found leaders determined to prevent the expansion of the conflict in the region.
The American minister had said before his arrival that he would convey what he heard from the leaders of the countries he visited to Israeli officials, and that he would speak with Israeli leaders about the future direction of their military campaign in Gaza and his vision for the future of the region and Israel.
Blinken added before his departure from Saudi Arabia that he found the leaders of the region in the countries he visited determined to prevent the expansion of the scope of the conflict between Israel andHamas In Gaza, he explained that everyone he spoke to understood the magnitude of the challenges, and no one believed that anything would happen overnight.
On the other hand, Israeli officials said that they would inform the US Secretary of State that the Palestinians would not return to the northern Gaza Strip unless Hamas released more of its detainees.
NBC quoted a senior American official as saying that Blinken would inform Israel of the need to end the military campaign in Gaza as soon as possible, adding that he would ask it to resort to focused military operations to reduce civilian casualties.
Arab peace forces?
In the same context, Israeli officials expressed to their American counterparts their hope that the Arab countries would agree to send a peacekeeping force to Gaza, but they did not formally ask Washington to pursue the idea of forming a multinational international force in the Strip because they know that that is unlikely to happen.
American officials proposed retraining members of the Palestinian Authority security forces in order to provide security in the Gaza Strip in the medium and long term.
Before the American minister arrived in Tel Aviv, Israeli statements were made about the continuation of the war for more months, but at a slower pace.
The New York Times quoted Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari as saying that the army has begun a new, less intense phase of fighting in the Gaza Strip, adding that the new phase will include fewer ground forces and air attacks.
Hagari added that Israel will continue to reduce the number of forces in Gaza, a process that began earlier this month, he said.
He claimed that the intensity of operations in the northern Gaza Strip had already begun to subside, and said that the Israeli army would now focus on the strongholds of the Hamas movement in the center and south of the Strip, especially around Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah, indicating that the fighting in these areas is complex and will continue throughout the current year.
The New York Times quoted American officials as saying that Israel has begun to shift from a large-scale ground and air campaign in the Gaza Strip to a more targeted phase, noting that Israeli officials informed their American counterparts that they hope to complete the transitional phase by the end of this month, but they indicated that the timetable is not Steady.
American officials expected that the Israeli transitional process in the Strip would rely more on what they described as surgical missions carried out by smaller groups of elite Israeli forces moving in and out of population centers in Gaza to find and kill Hamas leaders, rescue “hostages” and destroy tunnels.
They pointed out that the number of Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip decreased to less than half the number of approximately 50,000 soldiers who were present until last month during the height of the campaign.