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Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a joint press conference in Tel Aviv. (Photo: via Blinken TW Page, file)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials on Wednesday.

The top US diplomat arrived in Israel on Wednesday for talks on a framework agreement for a Gaza ceasefire and prisoner exchange deal between the Palestinian Resistance movement Hamas and the Israeli government. 

In a  brief statement, Netanyahu’s office described his meeting with Blinken as “long and in-depth”, without providing further details.

Blinken also met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday. The Israeli news website The Times of Israel quoted Blinken as saying that “there’s a lot of work to be done” to reach an agreement.

“We’re looking at it intensely,” Blinken reportedly told Herzog after Hamas presented its response, “as is, I know, the government of Israel, and there’s a lot of work to be done, but we are very much focused on doing that work and hopefully, being able to resume the release of hostages that was interrupted so many months ago.”

Qatar, Egypt and the US confirmed on Tuesday that they have received Hamas’ response to a framework agreement for a Gaza ceasefire and a prisoner exchange deal. 

Hamas has proposed a 3-stage plan for a Gaza ceasefire that includes a 135-day pause in fighting in return for captive releases.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 27,708 Palestinians have been killed, and 67,147 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 8,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all of the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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