US has submitted new draft resolution to UN calling for immediate cease-fire in Gaza

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The United States has submitted a new draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council, which calls for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza that is directly tied to a hostage release.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Saudi media outlet Al Hadath on Wednesday evening that the new resolution would put an end to fierce fighting in the Palestinian territory and urged the international body to support it.

“We’re pressing for an immediate ceasefire tied to the release of hostages.  That would bring immediate relief to so many people who are suffering in Gaza – the children, the women, the men.  It would allow a much greater expansion of humanitarian assistance getting to them, and it could create the conditions to have a lasting, enduring ceasefire, which is also what we want to see.  So that’s the urgency in this moment.  That’s what we’re pressing, with Qatar and Egypt working closely with us to try to get an agreement,” Blinken told Al Hadath.

Blinken added: “We actually have a resolution that we put forward right now that’s before the United Nations Security Council that does call for an immediate ceasefire tied to the release of hostages, and we hope very much that countries will support that.  I think that would send a strong message, a strong signal.”

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken steps out of a car as he departs for Cairo, in Jeddah on March 21, 2024.  (EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Speaking in Saudi Arabia, Blinken again struck a neutral tone in supporting Israel’s right to defend itself from terror while calling for an end to the war, citing civilian casualties.

“Of course, we stand with Israel and its right to defend itself… but at the same time, it’s imperative that the civilians who are in harm’s way and who are suffering so terribly -– that we focus on them, that we make them a priority, protecting the civilians, getting them humanitarian assistance,” Blinken said.

“And we’ve been leading the effort to do that, to get more in, to get more to the people who need it.  We are pressing on that as hard as we can,” he continued. “Israel needs to open up more access points to Gaza.  We’ve seen some progress there, including a new access point that was opened just about a week ago.  The ones that are already – that already exist, we have to get more assistance through on a regular basis, and all of this is necessary to do it, to make sure that as much assistance as possible is coming in through as many points as possible, reaching as many people as possible.

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Blinken, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jeddah on March 20, 2024.  (EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Blinken visited Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, which was his sixth trip to the Middle East since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, which was triggered when the terror group carried out the deadliest terror attack on Israeli soil ever on Oct. 7, 2023.

After landing on Wednesday, Blinken met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Blinken walking in Saudi Arabia

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reacts as he departs for Cairo, in Jeddah on March 21, 2024.  (EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

In his Wednesday interview, Blinken confirmed President Biden has spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, especially on what to do next in Rafah.

“We’ve been very clear – President Biden has been very clear – that we cannot support a major ground operation, military operation in Rafah.  There are, as you know, 1.4 million or so civilians in Rafah, many of them displaced from other parts in Gaza,” Blinken said. “There’s no effective way of getting them out of the way and to safety, and even the people that would remain in Rafah would be in terrible jeopardy.”

He added: “So this is one of the things that President Biden talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu about.  We have a team from Israel coming to the United States to look at a different way of dealing with the remaining problem of Hamas in Rafah.  So that’ll happen next week.”

Blinken’s tour includes a visit to Egypt on Thursday and then Israel on Friday.

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The current war, which has seen more than 32,000 dead, is the bloodiest conflict between Israel and Hamas.