Monday, December 4, 2023

Rafah crossing will be open: US secretary of state

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has promised that the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt "will be open" after meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

“Rafah will be open,” he said.

“We’re putting in place with the UN, with Egypt, Israel, with others, the mechanism by which to get the assistance in and to get it to people who need it.”

Israel has closed its two border crossings with Gaza and imposed a “complete siege” on the territory, blocking supplies of fuel, electricity and water. That has left the Rafah crossing as the only viable outlet to get people out of the enclave — and supplies into it.

Officials from several countries have been involved in the talks around when, and to what extent, the crossing can be opened. Catch up on the issue here.

Blinken also announced President Joe Biden’s appointment of David Satterfield, former US ambassador to Turkey, to help coordinate aid efforts. Blinken said Satterfield will be in Israel on Monday to begin coordinating.

Blinken, who has met with various regional leaders including those of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, stated he had “very good conversations” with both el-Sisi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He added every nation he spoke with shared the administration’s goal of preventing an escalation and securing aid to civilians stuck in Gaza.

Blinken said while the US supports Israel’s right to defend itself, he hopes Israel responds “in a way that affirms the shared values that we have for human life and human dignity.”

“The way that Israel does this matters. It needs to do it in a way that affirms the shared values that we have for human life and human dignity, taking every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians,” he continued, adding, “Civilians should not have to suffer for Hamas’ atrocities.”

Asked if the US would come to Israel’s defense in the event of an escalation, Blinken said, “I don’t think we could be more clear than we’ve been, that when it comes to Israel’s security, we have Israel’s back.”

He added, “We will stand with it today, tomorrow, and every day.”

Blinken assured US strike groups mobilized in the region are not intended “to provoke anyone, but to send a very clear message of deterrence, that no one should do anything that widens this conflict in any way, or that furthers aggression against Israel from any other direction.”

“No one should do anything that could add fuel to the fire in any other place. I think that’s very clear,” he noted.

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