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Arab leaders press Blinken for Gaza ceasefire after school blasts

GAZA/AMMAN: Arab leaders publicly pressed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday (Nov 4) to secure an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, hours after Palestinians said an Israeli air strike killed at least 15 people in a UN-run school being used as a shelter.

In a rare open display of disagreement, the top US diplomat pushed back as he stood next to his Jordanian and Egyptian counterparts at a news conference, saying a ceasefire would only let Hamas regroup.

World and regional powers have failed to reach any consensus on how to deal with the escalating conflict in the four weeks since fighters from Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, burst over the border, killing 1,400 people and taking more than 240 others hostage.

Israel has since struck Gaza from the air, imposed a siege and launched a ground assault, stirring global alarm at humanitarian conditions in the enclave, Gaza health officials said on Saturday, killing more than 9,488 Palestinians.

Blinken met the Saudi, Qatari, Emirati, Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers in Amman.

“Right now we have to make sure that this war stops,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told the press conference afterwards.

Blinken said all were agreed on the need for peace and that the current status quo in Gaza could not hold, but he acknowledged there were differences between Washington and its allies.

“A ceasefire now would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on Oct 7,” said Blinken, who was on his second trip to the region since Israel and Hamas went to war.

Washington has maintained its robust support for Israel but has also began advocating for temporary humanitarian pauses to allow aid into Gaza. On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuffed a pause proposal from Blinken after a day of meetings.

On Saturday, when asked by reporters if there was any progress on achieving a humanitarian pause, US President Joe Biden said “Yes” and gave a thumbs-up as he departed a church in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

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