US Secretary of State Antony Blinken renewed calls for Hamas to accept a ceasefire deal Wednesday as he started talks with Israel’s leadership.

“Even in these very difficult times we are determined to get a ceasefire that brings the hostages home — and to get it now. And the only reason that it wouldn’t be achieved is because of Hamas,” Blinken said as he met Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

Hamas is set to respond to an offer in which Israel would temporarily halt its offensive in Gaza and free Palestinian prisoners in return for hostages seized on October 7.

During his visit, Blinken is also pressing efforts to increase aid into the Gaza Strip, where the United Nations has warned of impending famine due to severe shortages of food.

He will later Wednesday meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and make stops including Ashdod, a port near Gaza that was recently reopened by Israel for aid.

On Tuesday, Blinken saw off a Jordanian aid convoy that was heading to the newly reopened Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza.

With AFP