Secretary of State Anthony Blinken landed in Israel Friday morning with a singular goal: promote a temporary ceasefire between the IDF and Hamas to allow the transfer of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, and at the same time support a move to release some of the hostages held by Hamas. Naturally, by hostages, Blinken means Israelis with dual citizenship, one of them American.
As he put it in a press conference in Washington, DC, on Thursday: “We’ve been working to make sure that our nationals and other foreign nationals can get out, and over the last two days you’ve seen Americans and their families begin to come out of Gaza. And we expect that to continue over the coming days.”
The secretary plans to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Arab leaders around the region.
On Thursday, Blinken said. “We’ve been able to establish over the last couple of weeks efforts to get trucks moving. We’ve had about 50 to 60 trucks a day of assistance going in. We need that and want that to increase, and I expect you’ll see that in the coming days.”
He also said, “Israel has not only the right but the obligation to defend itself and also to take steps to try to make sure that this never happens again.” This means the US will continue to support the IDF’s attack on Hamas in Gaza, seeing as there’s no other way “to make sure that this never happens again.”
But then he added, “We’ve also said very clearly and repeatedly that how Israel does this matters,” and came close to a reprimand: “We’ve seen in recent days Palestinian civilians continuing to bear the brunt of this action, and it’s important and the United States is committed to making sure everything possible is done to protect civilians.”
In a response to a reporter’s question, Blinken admitted that the fact that Hamas “cynically and monstrously, deliberately has people – men, women, and children – as human shields, puts its command posts, puts its leadership, puts its fighters, puts its weapons, puts its munitions underneath hospitals or even inside them – schools, mosques – makes this incredibly challenging.”
And then he said: “But we have to rise to that responsibility, and so we will be talking about concrete steps that can and should be taken to minimize harm to men, women, and children in Gaza.”
Are you beginning to feel that familiar headache so frequently associated with listening to a State Dept. official for too long? I’m afraid it’s not going to get better in the coming weeks of the war. Because Blinken continued: “When I see a Palestinian child – a boy, a girl – pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building, that hits me in the gut as much as seeing a child from Israel or anywhere else. So, this is something that we have an obligation to respond to, and we will.”
How is the IDF supposed to accomplish that? You just admitted that Hamas terrorists surround themselves with human shields. The only options here are to kill the terrorists and risk hurting their subservient civilians, or to spare the terrorists for the sake of those poor civilians. But then, how would Israel “make sure that this never happens again?”
Finally, 2-state: “We will be talking about how we can set the conditions for a durable, sustainable peace; durable, sustainable security for Israelis and Palestinians alike. We’re focused on the day of; we also need to be focused on the day after. … And so in conversations that we’ll be having through the course of this weekend, I expect you’ll see a focus there and particularly how we can get, over time, to two states for two peoples, which in our judgment remains the best guarantor – and maybe the only guarantor – of a secure, Jewish, and democratic Israel and Palestinians with a state that they’re entitled to.”
And that concept, about an independent Palestinian state being the only guarantee for a safe Jewish state is by far more convoluted than proclaiming that saving only American hostages is a hostage-rescue and even the idea that the IDF should devise ways to kill Hamas terrorists without killing the civilians they are using as human shields. A democratic and peaceful Palestinian state is a notion only the State Dept. is still capable of endorsing in 2023.
Vote Republican, especially if you’ve run out of aspirin.