Blinken meets with Netanyahu in Israel to promote a second ceasefire in the Gaza Strip


"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is on the final stop of his Middle East tour, the fifth since the Gaza Strip war began, with the goal of promoting a ceasefire.

Statements from the Prime Minister's Office and the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem reported the meeting but did not offer more details on what they discussed.

First, both "held a long and deep private meeting," Netanyahu's office said, and then they participated in an extended meeting with officials from both countries.

Blinken arrived in Israel last night, where he has a schedule of meetings with senior Israeli officials today, and is scheduled to go to Ramallah tomorrow, where he will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The U.S. Secretary of State will thus conclude a tour of the Middle East that has taken him to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Qatar, amid extensive diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip, where more than 27,700 Gazans have already died.

One of the main demands is that the Islamist group Hamas calls for a definitive end to hostilities and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the enclave; something Netanyahu strongly opposes.

On the Israeli side, participants included Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer; Defense Minister Yoav Gallant; heads of the intelligence services of the Mossad and Shin Bet, David Barnea and Ronen Bar, respectively; Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi; and National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi.

On the U.S. side, participants included Deputy Secretary of State for the Palestinian Authority Hady Amr; Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs David Satterfield; and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jacob Lew."