Blinken Returns to Mideast as Hostage Talks Hang in Balance

Secretary of State Antony Blinken disembarks from a plane in Tel Aviv, Oct. 16, 2023, from Jordan. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool, File)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken returns to the Middle East this week as a proposed Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal hangs in the balance after the dramatic rescue of four Israeli hostages held in Gaza in a major military raid and turmoil in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government.

With no firm response yet from Hamas to the proposal received 10 days ago, Blinken on Monday will start his eighth diplomatic mission to the region since the war began in October. He will meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo before traveling to Israel, Jordan, and Qatar.

“It’s hard to say how Hamas will process this particular operation and what it will do to its determination about whether it will say yes or not,” Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Sunday. “We have not gotten a formal answer from Hamas at this time.”

Blinken has met with Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Benny Gantz, and opposition leader Yair Lapid on nearly all of his previous trips to Israel. Officials said Gantz’s resignation Sunday would not necessarily affect Blinken’s schedule.

In Jordan, Blinken will participate in an emergency international conference on improving the flow of aid to Gaza.

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