WATCH: Blinken says U.S. stands ‘strongly’ with Israel but protecting civilians in Gaza important

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TEL AVIV — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said more needs to be done to “protect Palestinian civilians” in Gaza and that, without that, there will be “no partners for peace.”

Watch Blinken’s remarks in the player above.

Speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv on Friday, Blinken also said, “we need to substantially and immediately increase the sustainable humanitarian assistance” into Gaza.

He said it was critical to restore the path toward a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, calling it the only “guarantor” of a safe and democratic Israel and independent Palestine. He said work on that must begin “not tomorrow, not after today, but today.”

Blinken landed in Tel Aviv on Friday for his third trip to Israel since the war began with Hamas’ incursion into Israel on Oct. 7. Blinken will also visit Jordan and may make additional stops in the region before traveling to Asia early next week.

He met Friday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials to urge them to do everything possible to protect civilians caught in the fighting, while underscoring Israel’s right to defend itself.

“We stand strongly for the proposition that Israel has not only the right but the obligation to defend itself, and to make sure that October 7 should never happen again,” Blinken said. “How Israel does this matters and it is very important that when it comes to the protection of civilians who are caught in the crossfire of Hamas’ making that everything to be done to protect them and to bring assistance to those who so desperately need it.”

U.S. President Joe Biden has called for a “humanitarian pause” in the fighting in order to arrange the evacuation of dual citizens and foreigners still trapped in Gaza as well as to try to secure the release of more than 240 hostages Hamas is holding.

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