Washington wants Israel's Arab neighbours to play role in future rule of Gaza

Antony Blinken stressed the importance of preparing detailed plans for the post-conflict future of the Palestinian territory

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks on before his meeting with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim in Doha. AP
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On another urgent diplomatic mission to the Middle East, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday met Arab partners to discuss their role in the reconstruction, governance and security in the Gaza Strip.

The talks were in expectation that Israel's assault will eliminate Hamas, which has run the territory since 2007.

After a day of talks with Turkish and Greek leaders in Istanbul and Crete on Saturday, Mr Blinken met Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman.

He then travelled to Doha for talks with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim to prepare for an eventual end of hostilities.

In discussions with King Abdullah and Sheikh Tamim, Mr Blinken stressed the importance of preparing detailed plans for the post-conflict future of the Palestinian territory, which has been destroyed by Israeli bombardments.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Mr Blinken assured King Abdullah that Washington opposes the forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza or the occupied West Bank.

"Palestinian civilians must be able to return home as soon as conditions allow. They cannot, they must not be pressed to leave Gaza," Mr Blinken said in Doha alongside Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

He also warned the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza could "metastasise" and threaten security in the wider Middle East.

"This is a moment of profound tension in the region. This is a conflict that could easily metastasize, causing even more insecurity and even more suffering," he told reporters.

On his fourth visit to the region in three months, Mr Blinken will also visit the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the occupied West Bank and Egypt.

Jordan and other Arab states have been highly critical of Israel's actions and have eschewed public support for long-term planning, saying fighting must end before such discussions can begin.

They have been demanding a ceasefire since mid-October as civilian casualties began to soar.

Israel has refused and the US has instead called for specified temporary “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid to get in and people to get to safety.

Mr Blinken’s visit comes as developments in Lebanon, northern Israel, the Red Sea and Iraq have put intense strains on what had been a modestly successful US push to prevent a regional war since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, and as international criticism of Israel’s military operation increases.

Updated: January 07, 2024, 6:44 PM