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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Israel cannot reoccupy the Gaza Strip when the latest round of conflict concludes.
Mr Blinken, who made the comments after a meeting of the Group of Seven foreign ministers in Japan on Wednesday, gave the clearest picture yet of the US vision for a post-war Gaza.
He said a future Gaza cannot be run by Hamas, as that “that simply invites a repetition of October 7 and Gaza used it as a place from which to launch terrorist attacks".
But Mr Blinken added: “It's also clear that Israel cannot occupy Gaza.”
Israeli leaders have floated the idea that a buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip may be necessary to better protect Israel from attacks.
Mark Regev, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, repeated the idea on Tuesday.
“I believe there will be a buffer zone,” Mr Regev told PBS. “There needs to be, after what we have been through.”
On Wednesday, Mr Blinken appeared to rebuff that idea.
“No reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends,” Mr Blinken said. “No attempt to blockade or besiege Gaza. No reduction in the territory of Gaza.”
Israel occupied Gaza after the 1967 war and only withdrew in August 2005. The country has enforced a strict blockade on the densely populated enclave since Hamas came to power in 2007.
Israel has said its goal is to completely destroy Hamas, something Washington has consistently supported since the militant group launched its attack on October 7.
“We’ve said before, we need to see and get to, in effect, unity of governance when it comes to Gaza and the West Bank, and ultimately to a Palestinian state,” Mr Blinken said.