Blinken Takes Aim at Israeli Settlements

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves after delivering remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy Summit in Washington, US, June 5, 2023. (Reuters)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves after delivering remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy Summit in Washington, US, June 5, 2023. (Reuters)
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Blinken Takes Aim at Israeli Settlements

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves after delivering remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy Summit in Washington, US, June 5, 2023. (Reuters)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves after delivering remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy Summit in Washington, US, June 5, 2023. (Reuters)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the expansion of Israeli settlements and ongoing demolitions of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank are taking Israel further away from peace with the Palestinians.

Yet, he stressed that the US-Israel relationship remains “iron-clad," lauded American security commitments to the Jewish state.

At the same time, he made clear the administration's displeasure with actions that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right government has taken in expanding Jewish settlements and increasing Palestinian home demolitions.

“Settlement expansion clearly presents an obstacle to the horizon of hope we seek,” Blinken said in a speech to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington.

“Likewise, any move toward annexation of the West Bank, de facto or de jure, disruption of the historic status quo at the holy sites, the continuing demolitions of homes and the evictions of families that have lived in their homes for generations damage prospects for two states,” he said.

Improving Israeli-Arab relations cannot replace a two-state solution with the Palestinians, he said.

“Integration and normalization efforts are not a substitute for progress between Israelis and Palestinians, and they should not come at its expense,” Blinken said.

“Israel’s deepened relationships with its partners can and should advance the well-being of the Palestinian people and the prospects of a two-state solution,” he added.

Blinken also reaffirmed the Biden administration’s determination not to allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.



WHO Says Many People in Gaza Facing ‘Famine-like Conditions’

Israeli soldiers operate inside the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, on Feb. 13, 2024. (AP)
Israeli soldiers operate inside the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, on Feb. 13, 2024. (AP)
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WHO Says Many People in Gaza Facing ‘Famine-like Conditions’

Israeli soldiers operate inside the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, on Feb. 13, 2024. (AP)
Israeli soldiers operate inside the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, on Feb. 13, 2024. (AP)

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that many people in Gaza were facing "catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions".

"A significant proportion of Gaza's population is now facing catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"Despite reports of increased delivery of food, there is currently no evidence that those who need it most are receiving sufficient quantity and quality of food."

Tedros said there were more than 8,000 children under five years old who have been diagnosed and treated for acute malnutrition, including 1,600 children with severe acute malnutrition.

"However, due to insecurity and lack of access, only two stabilization centers for severely malnourished patients can operate," he added.

"Our inability to provide health services safely, combined with the lack of clean water and sanitation, significantly increases the risk of malnourished children."

The war in Gaza began on Oct. 7 when fighters led by Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis and took more than 250 hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's response has caused the deaths of more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to the Gazan health ministry, displaced most of Gaza's population of 2.3 million and caused widespread hunger and destruction.

A UN inquiry on Wednesday found that both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes early in the Gaza war, and that Israel's actions also constituted crimes against humanity because of the immense civilian losses.

Tedros also highlighted a separate health crisis in the West Bank, where he said healthcare had been targeted by nearly 500 attacks since Oct. 7.

"While the world's focus has been on Gaza, there is also an escalating health crisis in the West Bank, where attacks on healthcare and restrictions on movement of people are obstructing access to health services," he said.

"In most areas of the West Bank, clinics are only operating two days a week and hospitals are operating at about 70% capacity."