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Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold talks with key Israeli opposition figures on Tuesday, a day after he arrived in the country to push a ceasefire plan for the war in Gaza.

His visit is part of a drive by the United States to secure a ceasefire in the eight-month war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.

On Monday, the UN Security Council adopted a US-drafted resolution supporting a six-week ceasefire plan, under which Israel would withdraw from Gaza population centres and Hamas would free hostages taken during the October 7 attacks that triggered the war.

Blinken will on Tuesday meet Benny Gantz, a centrist and former army chief who quit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on Sunday, in Tel Aviv, as well as opposition leader Yair Lapid.

The United States, a staunch ally of Israel, had been widely criticised for blocking several previous UN draft resolutions calling for a ceasefire.

US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the Security Council had “voted for peace”.

“This Council sent a clear message to Hamas: accept the ceasefire deal on the table. Israel has already agreed to this deal and the fighting could stop today if Hamas would do the same,” she said after the UN session.

Hamas said Monday it “welcomes” the vote and reaffirmed its willingness to cooperate with mediators.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas described the UN vote as a “step in the right direction”.

The United States has expressed hopes that Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, which is based in the West Bank and which has no authority over Gaza, will play a role in managing the territory in the future.

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