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Blinken’s cease-fire shuttle diplomacy crashes in Israel

ICYMI, Netanyahu has no interest in pausing war.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with former Israeli army chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot (R) and former Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz in Tel Aviv on Feb. 8, 2024.

The Take: Netanyahu’s deathblow (for now) to US cease-fire diplomacy 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to the region last week, which began with high hopes for a cease-fire and prisoner exchange, fell apart in Israel, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the initiative, opting instead for "total victory" over Hamas, including a new military operation in Rafah, where 1.4 million Gaza residents are sheltered after being displaced from their homes because of fighting elsewhere in the enclave. 

The latest cease-fire effort began with Israel Mossad chief David Barnea huddling with US Director of Central Intelligence William Burns, Qatar Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Thani and Egypt Intelligence Director Abbas Kamel in Paris on Jan. 28.

As Ben Caspit has reported, despite Barnea’s engagement, Netanyahu was never fully on board, publicly and privately questioning Qatar’s role, leading to a rebuke from Doha.  

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