Path to Palestinian state best way to isolate Iran, normalise regional ties: Blinken

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Wrapping up a seven-day whirlwind tour of the Middle East, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that a pathway towards establishing a Palestinian state is the “single best way to isolate, marginalise Iran” and normalise regional ties. Blinken made the remarks on Thursday while speaking to reporters in Cairo following a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. According to the top US diplomat, the region faced two paths.

The first will see “Israel integrated, with security assurances and commitments from regional countries and as well from the US, and a Palestinian state – at least a pathway to get to that state”, Blinken said. “The other path is to continue to see the terrorism, the nihilism, the destruction by Hamas, by the Houthis, by Hezbollah — all backed by Iran. If you pursue the first path. that’s the single best way to isolate, to marginalise Iran and the proxies that are making so much trouble — for us and pretty much everyone else in the region,” he added.

Besides his visit to Cairo, Blinken also met top leaders in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Israel in a bid to look for ways to end the raging war in Gaza. While speaking to the reporters in Cairo, Blinken also said that “American diplomacy will work for days and months” to attain lasting peace in the region. He further emphasised the importance of freeing the hostages and spoke of the work that the US, Egypt and Qatar are jointly doing to mediate release efforts.

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The Secretary of State also said that based on Hamas assertions, over 23,000 Palestinians have been killed in war-related violence and took exception to it. That casualty figure, however, is supplied by the Hamas-run Health Ministry, which does not differentiate between terrorists and civilians killed. Israel has asserted that it has killed more than 8,000 Hamas combatants in Gaza.

According to sources in Israel Prime Minister’s office, Blinken had spoken at length with Netanyahu and other Cabinet ministers to allow passage of more humanitarian aid trucks into Gaza Strip as people were in dire need of essential commodities with famine increasing in the area. He also stressed upon the return of Palestinians who were displaced from their homes in the Hamas-controlled enclave, especially in northern Gaza.

A high ranking official in the Israel government told IANS that “Blinken clearly told our leadership that they were fighting Hamas and not the Palestine people.”