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Blinken swims against current to push for Gaza truce

​US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is welcomed upon arriving at King Khalid International Airport, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is welcomed upon arriving at King Khalid International Airport, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024.

Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via REUTERS
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is touring the Middle East this week – his fifth visit since Oct. 7 – to continue Washington’s push for a new truce in the Gaza war. The US and its Arab partners back a deal that would involve a temporary pause in the fighting to open the door for the release of more hostages from Gaza.

But Blinken is fighting an uphill battle, given Hamas seeks a permanent cease-fire and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been clear that he’s not giving up on his goal of destroying the militant group.

Bombing for peace? Blinken’s visit comes as the US ramps up strikes on Iran-backed militias in the region as part of a broader effort to deter further attacks on US forces. The tit-for-tat is being fueled by the war in Gaza, and it’s unlikely to end as long as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas.


What’s on the agenda? Blinken, who arrived in Riyadh on Monday, is set to visit Egypt, Israel, Qatar, and the occupied West Bank. His trip will also focus on post-war governance in Gaza and Washington’s hopes for a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

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