Netanyahu’s statements and Blinken’s visit

Blinken and Netanyahu. Wikipedia

Yesterday (Wednesday), US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived at Israel for an official visit – the third time since the outbreak of the war. Blinken met in Tel Aviv with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the heads of the security establishment, including Defense Minister Galant and Chief of Staff Halevi (while a suggestion from his staff to meet privately with Halevi was rejected outright and caused a small outrage in Israel). At the meeting, many important issues were discussed, beginning with negotiations to promote the release of the hostages (which have been stalled in recent days due to unreasonable demands by Hamas), Normalization with Saudi Arabia (with the kingdom recently declaring that it would continue to advance the process only after the establishment of a Palestinian state), UNRWA (whose budget was significantly cut last week due to exposures regarding terrorist partnership within the organization), And humanitarian aid to Gaza (against the backdrop of winter conditions, the rising civilian losses, and the demonstrations on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom crossing, through which humanitarian aid is being moved).

“We see the players in the region moving in the way I described, but others don’t,” Blinken said at a press conference, referring to Iran’s dangerous behavior toward American targets in the Middle East. “Others are trying to get in the way. Iran and its agents continue to escalate and expand the cycle of violence that we all want to break. We will continue to protect our people and our interests.” Today Blinken was supposed to tour in the south with Minister Katz – in the area of the targeted towns around Gaza and at the Kerem Shalom crossing, but the visit may be canceled due to fear of demonstrations.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also held a press conference yesterday, regardless of the visit to Lineken, and for the first time in Jerusalem and not in the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. Netanyahu addressed all the issues on the table and his agenda, expressing more optimism than has been voiced by senior security officials: “We are within reach of the ultimate victory, and we can achieve it in months, not years,” he said. In addition, Netanyahu denied reports of Hamas’s return to the northern Gaza Strip, and agreed in principle to some of the details of the hostage agreement with Hamas. “As long as people think we are not committed to the total elimination of Hamas, Hamas will return,” Netanyahu said, reiterating his absolute commitment to winning the war.

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