Blinken to visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel and West Bank in latest push

US Secretary of State will be making his fifth trip to the region since October 7

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference last month. AP
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will head back to the Middle East on Sunday, embarking on yet another round of shuttle diplomacy as he tries to keep the war in Gaza from spiralling into a broader conflict.

Mr Blinken will travel to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel and the West Bank for four days of diplomatic efforts.

He will focus on securing the “release of all remaining hostages” from Gaza as well as push for a “humanitarian pause” that will allow more aid to reach Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

In addition, Mr Blinken will work to “prevent the spread of the conflict”, which is threatening to turn into a broader regional war, with tension raging along the Israel-Lebanon border, in the Red Sea and in Syria, Iraq and Jordan, where three US soldiers were killed on Sunday.

“The secretary will also continue discussions with partners on how to establish a more integrated, peaceful region that includes lasting security for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” Mr Miller said.

Mr Blinken was most recently in the region at the beginning of January when he travelled to Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the occupied West Bank.

Antony Blinken says scenes from Gaza are 'gut-wrenching' – video

Antony Blinken says scenes from Gaza are 'gut-wrenching'

Antony Blinken says scenes from Gaza are 'gut-wrenching'

Since October 7, when Hamas militants launched a surprise attack, Mr Blinken has made repeated trips to the region trying to keep the conflict contained and to get more aid into Gaza amid while supporting Israel's right to defend itself.

Gaza officials say Israel has killed close to 27,000 people in the densely populated enclave since October 7.

Washington has been Israel's biggest ally throughout the war, twice vetoing UN resolutions calling for a ceasefire and sending weapons and ammunition to the Israeli military.

But as the military campaign in Gaza drags on, pressure on President Joe Biden's administration to prevent further bloodshed has increased.

On Friday, more than 800 civil servants in the US, UK and EU signed a letter demanding their respective governments halt unconditional support for Israel and take the necessary steps to help ensure a ceasefire.

The Israel-Gaza war – in pictures

Updated: February 04, 2024, 6:50 PM