U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken dodged a question from a New York Times reporter at a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday.
“Given the large number of hostages who remain in enormous humanitarian need in Gaza, do you believe that the current pause in fighting should be substantially extended despite concerns in Israel that it may be allowing Hamas to regroup?” asked Michael Crowley, diplomatic correspondent at the Times. “And is it possible that Israel’s offensive would not resume at all?”
Crowley also asked Blinken about the two-state solution “for long-term peace,” which the secretary has supported. “Many people doubt that Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu shares that vision. What is your opinion, and what are the implications if he does not?” the reporter asked.
Blinken’s 477-word response addressed all of the questions except whether it is possible that Israel will not resume attacking Hamas.
“We’d like to see the pause extended because what it has enabled first and foremost is hostages being released, coming home, being reunited with their families. It’s also enabled us to surge humanitarian assistance into the people of Gaza, who so desperately need it,” he said. “So its continuation, by definition, means that more hostages would be coming home, more assistance would be getting in.”
Blinken, who plans to travel to Israel on Thursday, said he intends to discuss the release of hostages with Israeli colleagues. “We’re working on that every single day,” he said.
The American diplomat then turned to the idea of a two-state solution, which he noted the Biden administration has characterized from the start as “the only path to enduring peace; to enduring security; to the preservation of Israel as a strong, secure, democratic and Jewish state; and Palestinians having their legitimate aspirations for a state and self-determination met.
“The events of Oct. 7 only further confirm that commitment,” he said.
Also on Wednesday, Netanyahu said that there was no question about whether Israel would resume attacking Hamas terrorists.
“There is no way we are not going back to fight to the end,” Netanyahu said. “This is my policy, the entire Cabinet stands behind it, the entire government stands behind it, the soldiers stand behind it, the people stand behind it—this is exactly what we will do.”