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US still hasn’t seen enough day-after Gaza planning from Israel, Blinken says

“Israel has effectively lost sovereignty in the northern quadrant of its country, because people don’t feel safe to go to their homes,” per the U.S. secretary of state.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken participates in a conversation on U.S. foreign policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., July 1, 2024. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken participates in a conversation on U.S. foreign policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., July 1, 2024. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.

Washington has yet to see enough information about Israel’s plans for Gazan reconstruction, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

With anti-Israel street protesters audible throughout the secretary’s remarks at the Brookings Institution, Blinken was asked how the Biden administration would ensure that U.S. adversaries can’t take advantage of what is frequently called the “day after” in the Gaza Strip when operations against Hamas cease.

“We’ve told the Israelis that we expect them to develop their own plans, their own ideas,” Blinken said. “We’ve not seen enough of that from Israel.”

Blinken said that Washington is “determined not to be outpaced” and has been working with Arab allies since January on plans for what to do if Hamas accepts a ceasefire proposal.

Hamas’s rejection of an Israeli ceasefire proposal that U.S. President Joe Biden announced in May could “most charitably” be described as a “Yes, but … ” response, Blinken said.

“Trying to impose new conditions, moving the line, actually coming back on positions they had already agreed to and trying to get more,” said Blinken of the Hamas counterproposal.

He also outlined the U.S. vision for post-war Gaza.

“There are three things that are unacceptable for Gaza’s future: an Israeli occupation, Hamas perpetuating its leadership or chaos, anarchy, lawlessness,” Blinken said. “Absent concrete plans to have an alternative to that, one of those three things is going to happen.”

“Given all of the extraordinary suffering that we’ve seen to date, that should be unacceptable,” he added. “It’s unacceptable to us.”

Blinken also addressed the tense situation along Israel’s northern border, with Israel and the U.S. continuing to press for a diplomatic solution to end Hezbollah’s rocket, missile and drone attacks. 

The attacks have forced Israel to evacuate tens of thousands of Israelis from communities along the Lebanese border.

“Israel has effectively lost sovereignty in the northern quadrant of its country because people don’t feel safe to go to their homes,” Blinken said.

The secretary argued that ending hostilities in Gaza could also enable a diplomatic solution with Hezbollah that would see the terror group withdraw its forces from the Israel-Lebanon border area and halt its rocket fire into Israel.

“Hezbollah, of course, has tied what it’s doing to the situation in Gaza, and has said that if there’s a ceasefire in Gaza, it will stop firing into Israel,” Blinken said. “It shouldn’t be firing to begin with. It’s wrong in and of itself. But it’s also a reality.”

“By the way, the Red Sea, the Houthis, same thing—Iran, Iranian-aligned militia groups,” he added. “So much of this is tied to Gaza. And I think it underscores why it’s clearly in the strategic interests of Israel as well to effectively bring this to a close.”

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