US Secretary of State Blinken travels once again to the Middle East. His goal: a quick end to the war. The United States depends mainly on Saudi Arabia.

Antony Blinken waving at the door of a plane

Up next in Cairo: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the airport on Tuesday Photo: Mark Schiefelbein/Reuters

SEDAN taz | A trip to the Middle East without press conferences: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is likely to keep a low profile on his fifth visit to the region since October 7, and rightly so. His diplomatic tour of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel and the West Bank is extremely difficult. According to a press release, his talks will revolve around the future of Gaza and the stalled ceasefire and hostage release process.

Because these negotiations have stalled again. Hamas has not yet officially commented on the proposal that Egypt, Qatar, the United States and Israel developed in Paris more than a week ago. According to media reports, it provides for a longer ceasefire and the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli hostages.

But the dispute between Hamas leaders over this issue has obviously not yet been resolved. High Wall Street Journal The head of Hamas's military wing, Jahja Sinwar, would agree to a six-week ceasefire. The head of the political wing, Ismail Hanijeh, insists that Qatar make more concessions and a permanent ceasefire.

Since details about the potential deal were leaked to the public, Israel's prime minister has also sharpened his rhetoric. Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear that he would not accept an end to the fighting or free “thousands of terrorists.” On Monday, he went a step further and announced that the war would not end until Israel killed the Hamas leaders.

This apparent lack of commitment may be due to his concern for his governing alliance. His far-right ministers, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, repeatedly threatened to accept a “reckless deal” by leaving the government. In their eyes, “ruthless” means the end of the fighting and the release of many Palestinian prisoners.

“Hand-to-hand combat” in Khan Yunis

But the United States has other plans. The newspaper Israel Times quotes a senior US official as saying that a ceasefire would allow the US government to promote “regional initiatives.” If Washington has its way, Saudi Arabia should play a larger role in the post-war scenario for Gaza and in the push for a Palestinian state. On Monday, Blinken spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh about the need for “regional coordination” “to achieve a lasting end to the crisis in the Gaza Strip,” Blinken's spokesperson said.

Despite the Gaza war, Saudi Arabia is interested in a normalization agreement with Israel. Recently, Riyadh has relaxed the condition that this be linked to the establishment of a Palestinian state: it is enough for Israel to pave the way for the future establishment of a Palestinian state. However, the chances of this happening under Netanyahu are zero.

At the same time, fighting continues in the Gaza Strip; They remain especially violent in Khan Yunis, in the south of the coastal strip. Israel's military said on Tuesday that soldiers were engaged in “hand-to-hand fighting” in the city. Israel suspects that Hamas leaders are hiding in the area's network of underground tunnels. Additionally, Israeli Defense Minister Joaw Galant announced on Monday afternoon that the army wanted to advance towards Rafah, on the border with Egypt. The United Nations warned against this measure on Tuesday. More than a million people are crammed into a small space, many of whom had already fled there to escape the bombs.

Meanwhile, Russia and China accused the United States at the U.N. Security Council of further exacerbating the Middle East conflict with weekend airstrikes on targets in Syria and Iraq. China's ambassador to the UN said the attacks would worsen the “vicious cycle” of violence and counter-violence in the region.