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On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to the West Bank and stated that the Palestinian Authority (PA) should have a significant role in shaping the future of the Gaza Strip.
Mr Blinken passed through Israeli checkpoints to meet PA president Mahmoud Abbas in the city of Ramallah on his second visit to the region since Palestinian Hamas fighters launched a surprise attack on southern Israel on 7 October, killing 1,400 people and taking more than 240 others hostage.
Israel has continued conducting airstrikes, resulting in a reported death toll of over 9,700 Palestinians according to Gaza health officials. On Saturday, Mr. Blinken rejected pleas for a ceasefire from Arab officials. He had previously requested Israel to consider shorter breaks in the fighting, but this was unsuccessful.
Mr. Blinken has been leading the effort on behalf of the US to find a lasting peaceful solution to the ongoing violence in Gaza. However, this plan is based on the condition that Hamas be removed from the area, despite other Western nations calling for an immediate end to the conflict. This would result in Hamas maintaining control over the Gaza Strip.
Despite beliefs that the Palestinian Authority is the only alternative to Hamas, there is still significant uncertainty surrounding their credibility.
According to Ghaith al-Omari, a previous consultant to Mr Abbas, the majority of Palestinians, in both Gaza and the West Bank, view the PA as a disadvantage rather than a benefit.
Recent surveys have indicated that the majority of Palestinians do not support the PA’s return to the enclave.
According to Mr al-Omari, the current situation is such that the PA does not have the ability to effectively govern Nablus or Jenin in the West Bank. Therefore, the idea that they will be able to enter Gaza in the near future is unrealistic.
Most people view them as a burden, not a benefit, so they wouldn’t have the necessary support to enter, especially not with the help of Israeli military forces.
During their meeting, Mr. Abbas informed Mr. Blinken that Gaza is a crucial component of the Palestinian state that they desire. This information was reported by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, which implied that any involvement of the PA in governing Gaza would need to be included in a larger resolution of the long-standing conflict.
Mr. Abbas stated to WAFA that we will accept our duties in the scope of a complete political resolution that encompasses the entire West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed increasing demands for a ceasefire in Gaza until all of the 240+ hostages are released.
“There will be no ceasefire without the return of the hostages. This should be completely removed from the lexicon,” Mr Netanyahu told crews at the Ramon air force base in southern Israel, reiterating the government’s long-standing position.
We express this to both our companions and adversaries: we will persist until we overcome them. We have no other choice.
Although Israel is facing pressure from the international community to decrease civilian casualties in Gaza and implement a temporary ceasefire, Prime Minister Netanyahu is also dealing with significant domestic pressure from the families of Israeli hostages.
Israeli authorities had to restrain demonstrators outside of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem on Saturday evening due to widespread frustration over the shortcomings that resulted in the recent Hamas attack.
A group of hundreds broke through police barriers near the prime minister’s residence, waving Israeli flags and shouting “jail now!” Multiple individuals were subsequently taken into custody.
During the ongoing protests, Israeli airstrikes persisted in targeting Gaza. On Saturday night, missiles struck the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, resulting in the deaths of 40 individuals and injuries to 34 others, as reported by the health ministry under Hamas control.
According to Arafat Abu Mashaia, a resident of the camp, the airstrike destroyed multiple high-rise residences that were serving as shelter for people who had been displaced from other areas of Gaza.
While standing amid the rubble of demolished houses, he declared, “This was a brutal massacre. The residents here are all innocent and peaceful individuals. I dare anyone to claim there were armed fighters present.”
The camp is situated in a residential neighborhood and falls within the evacuation zone, which the Israeli military has advised Palestinian civilians to use as a safe haven while their offensive targets the northern region.
A house near a school in the Bureji refugee camp in central Gaza was hit by an additional airstrike on Sunday, resulting in the deaths of at least 13 people, according to staff at Al-Aqsa hospital. The camp is currently home to approximately 46,000 individuals and was also targeted on Thursday.
According to the health ministry, the death toll in the territory has exceeded 9,700 in the past month of conflict. As Israeli troops move into heavily populated areas, this number is expected to increase.
Former UK leader Boris Johnson made an unexpected trip to Israel on Sunday to meet with Israeli soldiers as a show of “solidarity and support” after the 7 October attack.
The video displayed Mr. Johnson conversing with soldiers about three weeks after Rishi Sunak’s visit to Israel, supposedly for similar purposes.