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Blinken: Not in world’s interest for war to end with Hamas in power

“It would be good if there was a strong international voice pressing Hamas to do what's necessary to end this,” the U.S. secretary of state said. “That could be tomorrow.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the Senate Committee on Appropriations on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 31, 2023. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the Senate Committee on Appropriations on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 31, 2023. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.

Hamas should be removed from power when the conflict in Gaza ends, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a year-in-review press briefing at the State Department on Wednesday.

“Everyone would like to see this conflict end as quickly as possible, but if it ends with Hamas remaining in place and having the capacity and the stated intent to repeat Oct. 7 again and again and again, that’s not in the interest of Israel,” Blinken said.

“It’s not in the interest of the region,” he added. “It’s not in the interest of the world.”

It is “striking” that amid all of the international demands for a ceasefire that there is virtually no pressure being put upon Hamas to stop using human shields or to end the conflict, which it could do immediately by surrendering, Blinken added.

“How can it be that there are no demands made of the aggressor and only demands made of the victim?” the secretary asked. “It would be good if there was a strong international voice pressing Hamas to do what’s necessary to end this, and again, that could be tomorrow.”

Blinken reiterated the Biden administration position that Israel has a right to self-defense but also said that the United States wants to see Israel shift to a more targeted phase of combat, with fewer Palestinian civilian casualties.

“It’s clear that the conflict will move, and needs to move, to a lower-intensity phase,” Blinken said. “We expect to see, and want to see, a shift to more-targeted operations, with a smaller number of forces, that’s really focused-in on dealing with the leadership of Hamas, the tunnel network and a few other critical things.”

“As that happens, I think you’ll see the harm done to civilians decrease significantly,” he said.

Blinken also noted ongoing negotiations over a United Arab Emirates-proposed resolution in the U.N. Security Council that calls for additional aid to be delivered to Gaza with ships and aircraft, in addition to the current convoys of trucks. 

“I hope we can get to a good place,” Blinken said of those negotiations.

In a video statement on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We are continuing the war until the end. It will continue until Hamas is eliminated—until victory.”

“Those who think we will stop are disconnected from reality. We will not stop fighting until we achieve all our goals: the destruction of Hamas, the return of our hostages and the removal of the threat from Gaza,” Netanyahu added. “We are attacking Hamas with fire—hellish fire. Everywhere, including today.”

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