US’ Middle East vision

Tough choices for Israel

by damith
January 14, 2024 1:05 am 0 comment 230 views

BBC – At a press briefing in Tel Aviv on Tuesday – after a day of meetings with Israeli leaders – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was surprisingly upbeat.

Answering a question about the future of Gaza, he said he had just delivered a “new” and “very powerful” message to the Israelis – one that would end the cycle of violence in the Middle East once and for all.

Blinken had spent the past four days travelling around the Middle East, with three objectives – persuading Israel to wind down its offensive, reducing tensions in the region, and easing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

As he concluded a trip which also took in Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, US-led air strikes were launched at Houthis in Yemen. While Blinken flew back across the Atlantic, the attacks will have left him wondering how his second objective can be met.

But the news conference in Tel Aviv days before hinted at the possibility of progress on what lies ahead.

Here was the offer: The Arab leaders would support regional integration, including normalised relations with Israel, in exchange for an end to the Gaza War, and Israel’s acceptance of a “clear path” to Palestinian political rights and a unified Palestinian state, comprising the West Bank and Gaza.

The plan, Blinken says, would have the additional benefit of isolating Iran and reducing what he said was its malign efforts to destablise the region through proxy actors like Hezbollah, Hamas and the Houthi movement.

The US secretary has acknowledged that adopting the American proposal would require some hard choices on the part of the Israelis, but he insisted that the promise of a durable regional peace was worth the effort.

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