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Blinken returns to Mideast in push for hostage deal and postwar plan for Gaza

2024-02-06 09:00:31       source:Politico

February 5, 2024

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Monday at the start of his fifth visit to the Middle East since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, hoping to press ahead with a potential cease-fire deal and postwar planning while tamping down regional tensions.

But on all three fronts he faces major challenges: Hamas and Israel are publicly at odds over key elements of a potential truce. Israel has dismissed U.S. calls for a path to a Palestinian state, and Iran’s militant allies in the region have shown little sign of being deterred by U.S. strikes.

In Gaza, meanwhile, Hamas has begun to re-emerge in some of the most devastated areas after Israeli forces pulled back, an indication that Israel’s central goal of crushing the group remains elusive. Video footage from the same areas shows vast destruction, with nearly every building damaged or destroyed.

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