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Blinken: Only Israel decides when Gaza war ends, not US

Washington says that Hamas is still a serious threat

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a War Cabinet meeting, Dec. 9, 2023 (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday stressed that Israel, not the United States, would ultimately decide when the war against the terror organization Hamas in the Gaza Strip is completed.

“We have these discussions with Israel, including about the duration as well as how it’s prosecuting this campaign against Hamas. These are decisions for Israel to make,” the U.S. top diplomat stated during an interview on the CNN program, The Lead with Jake Tapper.

Dec. 7 marked two months since the war started when some 3,000 Hamas terrorists and accomplices invaded southern Israel and slaughtered more than 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians including women, children, and elderly Holocaust survivors.

Blinken’s latest statement about the length of the ongoing war in Gaza was an updated response to a previous report about the Biden administration reportedly signaling that Israel had “maybe weeks” and not months to complete the most intensive part of the war against Hamas.

The Biden administration, which is under intense domestic and international pressure to end the war, had previously indicated that it would like Israel state to wrap up the most intense part of the war by the beginning of January, according to reports.

Israel has downplayed any potential disagreements between Jerusalem and Washington concerning the length of the war.

“If Secretary Blinken has marked Jan. 1 as a preferred target date for the beginning of the end of the Gaza operation, Israel wants the end of January as the target date. That leaves three weeks in dispute. There will be no problem bridging it,” an unnamed Israeli diplomatic source recently informed Al-Monitor news.

However, Blinken’s latest statement indicates that Washington does not intend to insist that Israel's military operations should follow a particular diplomatic stopwatch, as has been the case in previous wars with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Blinken also elaborated on the U.S. State Department greenlighting the emergency sale of approximately 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel.

“Israel is in combat right now with Hamas,” the secretary of state confirmed. “And we want to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against Hamas,” he added.

Washington also supports Israel in the diplomatic arena amid growing international demands for an unconditional and immediate ceasefire. Jerusalem believes that a ceasefire in this current stage of the war would effectively give Hamas a renewed 'lease on life,' ultimately prolonging the civilian suffering in both Gaza and Israel.

The U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution on Friday demanding an immediate ceasefire, while failing to condemn the Hamas invasion and massacre of more than 1,200 Israelis on Oct. 7, as well as abducting some 240 as hostages.

U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood blasted the UNSC resolution as biased against Israel and “divorced from reality.”

“This Council’s failure to condemn Hamas’ October 7th terrorist attacks – including its acts of sexual violence and other unthinkable evils – is a serious moral failure. And it underscores the fundamental disconnect between the discussions that we have been having in this Chamber and the realities on the ground,” Wood stated.

The senior U.S. official emphasized that Hamas still constitutes a serious threat to Israel and that no other government would tolerate such a threat on its borders.

“Hamas continues to pose a threat to Israel and remain in charge of Gaza. That is not a threat that any one of our governments would allow to continue to remain on our own borders. Not after the worst attack on our people in several decades," Wood assessed.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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