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"The only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a cease-fire is Hamas."

1 min

Accepting a cease-fire deal with Israel should be a "no-brainer" for Hamas, but the motivations of the militants' elusive Gaza-based leadership remain unclear, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Antony Blinken © FAZ

Accepting a cease-fire deal with Israel should be a "no-brainer" for Hamas, but the motivations of the militants' elusive Gaza-based leadership remain unclear, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has announced that its delegation will return Saturday to Cairo to resume long-running talks brokered by Egypt and Qatar that would temporarily halt Israel's offensive in return for freeing hostages.

"We wait to see whether, in effect, they can take yes for an answer on the cease-fire and release of hostages," Blinken said late Friday. 

"The reality in this moment is the only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a cease-fire is Hamas."

Noting that the militants "purport to represent" the Palestinian people, Blinken said: "If it is true, then taking the cease-fire should be a no-brainer."

"But maybe something else is going on, and we'll have a better picture of that in the coming days," he said.

Blinken pointed to difficulties negotiating with Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist group and does not engage with directly and which Israel has vowed to eliminate.

"The leaders of Hamas that we're indirectly engaged with — through the Qataris, through the Egyptians — are, of course, living outside of Gaza," Blinken said.

"The ultimate decision-makers are the folks who are actually in Gaza itself with whom none of us have direct contact."

Blinken was addressing the McCain Institute's Sedona Forum in Arizona days after he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top leaders on his latest visit to the Middle East.

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