Israel Palestine Conflict

Blinken rejects Gaza expulsion proposal amid Israel-Hamas crisis

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has categorically rejected the idea floated of expelling Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, saying they should be able to stay as Israel battles Hamas.

Blinken is on a crisis tour of the Middle East after Hamas unleashed a brutal October 7 assault inside Israel that killed more than 1,400, mostly civilians, prompting reprisals that have killed at least 2,670 people.

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With Israel telling more than one million Gazans to leave the north of the enclave ahead of a ground invasion, some Israeli politicians have proposed pushing Palestinians into neighboring Egypt.

“I’ve heard directly from Palestinian Authority President (Mahmoud) Abbas and from virtually every other leader that I’ve talked to in the region that that idea is a nonstarter, and so we do not support it,” Blinken said in an interview in Cairo with Al Arabiya.

“We believe that people should be able to stay in Gaza, their home. But we also want to make sure that they’re out of harm’s way and that they’re getting the assistance they need,” he said.

Israel’s former deputy foreign minister Daniel Ayalon has called for Egypt to cooperate and set up tent cities for Palestinians, saying there was “almost endless space” in Sinai, a vast desert region formerly occupied by Israel.

Egypt has rejected the idea and Blinken on his visit instead focused on ways to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza, the densely populated and impoverished enclave run by Hamas.

Abbas, a rival to Hamas based in the West Bank, warned Blinken on Friday that driving out Gaza’s people would amount to a “second Nakba” -- the displacement and expulsion of more than 760,000 Palestinians when the Israeli state was created in 1948.

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