December 11, 2023

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up a grueling Center East diplomatic tour on Monday in Turkey after solely restricted success in efforts to forge a regional consensus on how finest to ease civilian struggling in Gaza as Israel intensifies its warfare in opposition to Hamas.

Within the Turkish capital, Ankara, Blinken met with Overseas Minister Hakan Fidan following a frantic weekend of journey that took him from Israel to Jordan, the occupied West Financial institution, Cyprus and Iraq, to construct help for the Biden administration’s proposal for “humanitarian pauses” to Israel’s relentless army marketing campaign in Gaza.

“All of it is a work in progress,” Blinken mentioned earlier than leaving Turkey. “We don’t clearly agree on every little thing, however there are widespread views on a few of the imperatives of the second that we’re engaged on collectively.”

Blinken’s shuttle diplomacy got here as Israeli troops surrounded Gaza Metropolis and lower off the northern a part of the besieged Hamas-ruled territory. Troops are anticipated to enter the town Monday or Tuesday, and are more likely to face militants preventing road by road utilizing an enormous community of tunnels. Casualties will seemingly rise on either side within the month-old warfare, which has already killed greater than 9,700 Palestinians.

The highest U.S. diplomat hopes that pauses within the warfare would enable for a surge of humanitarian assist to Gaza and the discharge of hostages captured by Hamas through the militants’ lethal Oct. 7 incursion into southern Israel that killed greater than 1,400 folks, principally civilians — whereas additionally stopping the battle from spreading regionally.

“We’ve engaged the Israelis on steps that they’ll take to attenuate civilian casualties,” Blinken mentioned earlier than leaving Ankara. “We’re working, as I mentioned, very aggressively on getting extra humanitarian help into Gaza.”

“We’re very targeted on the hostages held by Hamas, together with the Individuals, and we’re doing every little thing doable to deliver them residence,” he added.

Blinken didn’t meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been extremely vital of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and an outlier amongst NATO allies in not expressing full help for Israel’s proper to defend itself.

Because the Blinken-Fidan assembly obtained underway, dozens of protesters from an Islamist group waved Turkish and Palestinian flags and held up anti-U.S. and anti-Israel placards exterior the Overseas Ministry. Police earlier within the day dispersed a gaggle of scholars marching towards the ministry chanting “assassin Blinken, get out of Turkey!”

Additionally Monday, about 150 folks rallied exterior the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, carrying a big banner that learn: “No to genocide!”

It was the second day of protests denouncing Blinken’s go to. On Sunday, pro-Palestinian protesters clashed with Turkish riot police exterior the U.S.-Turkish Incirlik army air base within the southern metropolis of Adana. Police fired tear fuel and water cannon because the demonstrators tried to cross fields to enter the bottom.

Turkish officers, talking on situation of anonymity to debate the talks, mentioned Fidan had urged Blinken to forestall the concentrating on of civilians in Gaza and their compelled displacement, and in addition press for a “full cease-fire.”

Blinken’s mission, his second to the area because the warfare started, has discovered solely tepid, if any, help for his efforts to comprise the fallout from the battle. Israel has rejected the concept of pauses whereas Arab and Muslim nations are as an alternative demanding a direct cease-fire because the casualty toll soars amongst Palestinian civilians beneath Israeli bombardments of Gaza.

U.S. officers are looking for to persuade Israel of the strategic significance of respecting the legal guidelines of warfare by defending non-combatants and considerably boosting deliveries of humanitarian assist to Gaza’s beleaguered civilian inhabitants.

It remained unclear, nevertheless, if Netanyahu would comply with non permanent, rolling pauses within the huge operation to eradicate Hamas — or whether or not outrage amongst Palestinians and their supporters could possibly be assuaged if he did.

Already Jordan and Turkey have recalled their ambassadors to Israel to protest its techniques and the tide of worldwide opinion seems to be turning from sympathy towards Israel within the aftermath of Oct. 7 to revulsion as photos of loss of life and destruction in Gaza unfold around the globe.

On Saturday within the Jordanian capital of Amman, each the Egyptian and Jordanian overseas ministers appeared at a joint information convention with Blinken. The 2 mentioned Israel’s warfare had gone past self-defense and will now not be justified because it now amounted to collective punishment of the Palestinian folks.

That sentiment was echoed by tens of hundreds of demonstrators who marched within the streets of world capitals over the weekend to protest Israel and condemn U.S. help for Israel.

From Turkey, Blinken headed to Asia the place the Gaza battle will seemingly share prime billing with different worldwide crises at a collection of occasions in Japan, South Korea and India — together with Russia’s warfare on Ukraine and North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

On Sunday, Blinken flew from the occupied West Financial institution, the place he held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to Baghdad for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani.