Blinken Doomed To Fail On Middle East Trip

During his fifth trip to the Middle East since the Gaza war began, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is pursuing efforts to broker a cease-fire and engage in post-conflict planning, aiming to mitigate regional tensions. Nevertheless, he is confronted with considerable obstacles.

The conflict between Hamas and Israel has led to a stalemate in cease-fire negotiations. Israel has dismissed the U.S.’s push for a pathway towards a Palestinian state, and the threat from Iran’s regional militant allies persists despite American military actions.

In Gaza, following the Israeli military’s pullout, Hamas is making efforts to rebuild in the hardest-hit zones, underscoring the failure of Israel’s goal to defeat the organization decisively. Videos revealing widespread devastation are circulating, showcasing severe damage or destruction to numerous structures.

Upon landing in Riyadh, Blinken met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Saudi authorities have shown a willingness to normalize ties with Israel, contingent upon the formulation of a convincing strategy for the creation of a Palestinian state. Yet, the prospect of reaching this significant agreement appears remote as the conflict in Gaza persists, leading to increasing casualties and extensive destruction.

The Health Ministry in Gaza reported that in the last 24 hours alone, 113 bodies were brought to hospitals, with an additional 205 people wounded. The overall Palestinian death toll from the four-month-long conflict has reached 27,478, with the majority of the victims being women and children. The war has not only leveled vast areas of Gaza but has also displaced 85 percent of its population and pushed a quarter of residents to the brink of starvation.

A video circulating online displayed masked gunmen parading a line of shirtless detainees past the ruins of buildings in northern Gaza, forcing them to admit to being thieves. While the Associated Press could not independently verify the incident, it aligns with previous reports. This incident showcases Hamas’ reassertion of control in certain areas, with their security forces distributing civil salaries and cracking down on looters.

In response to Hamas’ attempts to rebuild its capabilities, the Israeli military has launched targeted operations in northern Gaza over the past week. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the war until Hamas’ military and governing abilities are entirely eradicated and the remaining hostages, who were taken during the Oct. 7 cross-border raid, are safely returned.

Hamas and other militant groups were responsible for the deaths of approximately 1,200 individuals, the majority of whom were civilians, in their attacks, and they kidnapped about 250 people. In a cease-fire that lasted a week in November, over 100 hostages, predominantly women and children, were freed in a swap that saw 240 Palestinians detained by Israel released.