Blinken’s visit to Israel is the last stop on his Middle East trip after visits to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The US minister wanted to talk to Netanyahu about the Gaza war. It was expected that in the conversation with the Israeli head of government he would urge an expansion of humanitarian aid for the population in the Gaza Strip and reiterate his warning about the planned Israeli ground offensive in the city of Rafah in the south of the Palestinian territory.

There had recently been disagreements between the allies USA and Israel because of the plans. US President Joe Biden warned Netanyahu more and more emphatically against a ground offensive in Rafah, where around 1.5 million of the 2.4 million residents are now staying following Israeli offensives in the north and center of the coastal area.

The US now plans to submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on Friday on an “immediate and permanent ceasefire” in the Gaza Strip to enable humanitarian aid deliveries and ease the suffering. In addition, “diplomatic efforts” to secure the ceasefire in connection with the release of all hostages in the Gaza Strip should be supported. The US had previously exercised its veto power in the UN Security Council on several resolutions calling for immediate ceasefires in the war between Israel and the radical Islamic group Hamas.

After Washington’s change of course, Great Britain and Australia also increased pressure on Israel on Friday. After consultations in Adelaide, Australia, the foreign and defense ministers of both countries emphasized the “urgency of an immediate cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip” in order to enable the delivery of aid and the release of hostages.

China expressed support for U.N. Security Council action to end fighting in the Gaza Strip, but left it unclear whether it would support the U.S. draft resolution. “China supports the Security Council in taking further responsible and meaningful measures as soon as possible (…) to quickly end the fighting in the Gaza Strip,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian. As a permanent member, China, like the USA, has veto rights in the UN Security Council.

The US government has also been working with Qatar and Egypt for months to reach a further agreement between Israel and the radical Islamic Hamas. There is apparently currently a proposal on the table for a six-week ceasefire and for an exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

The war in the Gaza Strip was triggered by the major attack on Israel on October 7th by Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist organization by the USA and the EU. According to Israeli information, around 1,160 people were killed and around 250 others were taken hostage in the Gaza Strip. Israel assumes that there are still around 130 hostages held by Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip. 33 of them are presumed dead.

Since the Hamas attack, Israel has taken massive military action in the Gaza Strip. According to information from the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health, which cannot be independently verified, at least 31,988 people have been killed so far.