RAMALLAH/BAGHDAD, Nov. 5 (Reuters) - Top U.S. diplomat Antony Blinken said the Palestinian Authority (PA) should play a central role in the future of the Gaza Strip, as he met with Iraqi leaders and toured the region amid spiraling tensions over Israel's war with Hamas.
Blinken passed through Israeli checkpoints to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, and then traveled on to Iraq. It was his second visit to the region since the Hamas militants who rule Gaza launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,400 people and taking more than 240 others hostage, according to Israel.
Palestinian views, voices and aspirations need to be “at the center” of conversations about the future of Gaza, Blinken told reporters in Baghdad.
As Israel continued a campaign of air strikes that Gaza health officials say has killed 9,770 Palestinians, Secretary of State Blinken rebuffed calls for a ceasefire from Arab officials on Saturday after appealing, unsuccessfully, to Israel for more limited pauses to the fighting a day earlier.
"This is a process," Blinken said about the push for humanitarian pauses, saying Israel has important questions about how they would work, and details are being discussed now.
It is important that any pause advance several issues, including hostage release, he said.
In discussions with the Iraqi government, Blinken said, "I made very clear that the attacks, the threats coming from militia that are aligned with Iran are totally unacceptable."