Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Andrea Mitchell of NBC – United States Department of State

Question: Mr. Secretary, you have spent so much time with Prime Minister Netanyahu. And you say you want a mortgage deal. You’ve told families that this is at the heart of everything you’re doing. But if Netanyahu and Israel go to Rafah, there is no chance of a hostage deal or a ceasefire.

Secretary Blinken: Look Our focus is on the hostages and I believe the Israeli government is as well. And I think that’s evident in the fact that the offer, the most recent offer that was put on the table shows that they are willing to make big compromises to get the deal. This is what speaks most clearly and loudly. And as we discussed today, it’s clear they would like to see that happen. This leads to an immediate ceasefire, the hostages get home and we get something to look forward to. And we agreed in our conversation today that if that happens, we will work to take it forward.

Question: But there are multiple reports from authorities that they are getting closer to moving into Rafah. If they do, there will be no mortgage deal; By definition, there is no ceasefire; And what will America do? Despite originally being a red line, will there be any impact if they go to Rafa?

Secretary Blinken: Andrea, first of all, I don’t want to get into hypotheticals about what could have happened. Our focus is on seeing if this deal can happen as it should. And we will see what Hamas does. It’s on them.

In terms of Rafa, we are very clear, our position is clear – it has not changed; This will not change. And our position is that we cannot and will not support a major military operation in Rafah in the absence of a clear, credible plan to protect civilians. We have not seen any such plan. And there are also better ways to do what Israel needs to do in terms of dealing with the remaining Hamas problem. We are talking with them about it; We agreed that these talks will continue. So let’s let it play out.

Question: The Prime Minister has said he will go to Rafah with or without an agreement. Doesn’t this make any deal impossible?

Secretary Blinken: People say things; Let’s focus on what they’re doing, what we’re doing. And the most immediate thing, the most important thing, is to see in the coming days what is Hamas’ reaction to a very strong proposal that has been put on the table. Everyone agrees that it is a good deal, and it will result, once again, in an immediate ceasefire, which everyone wants, and the hostages will get home, which everyone wants. The focus is here.

Question: The Prime Minister also told you that he would not agree to a permanent ceasefire.

Secretary Blinken: We have agreed that if there is an agreement, if we get an initial ceasefire, if we bring the hostages home, then we will work on that. so –

Question: And finally, you saw aid being loaded onto trucks in Jordan. Jordan is complaining that the trucks that brought support from the warehouse where you were just at were attacked by settlers as they headed towards the Erez Crossing. Is this acceptable?

Secretary Blinken: So yes, and that is unacceptable. We have made this clear to the government. it’s also –

Question: Will there be any side effects?

Secretary Blinken: Well, it’s also important to note that this has already happened. My understanding is that the people who attacked this convoy have been arrested today by Israeli authorities. This sends a very strong message. Now, they have to continue to send a strong message that this aid cannot, must not be interfered with as it goes through Israel. And look, Israel is even better. Look, emotions are so incredibly raw – you know that by being here. October 7, and the unimaginable happened. The hostages who remain in the most dire situations.

But as President Biden has made clear — again, from day one — that doesn’t mean aid shouldn’t reach those who most desperately need it. These are two different things. The people who desperately need this aid, and who are receiving more of it because of the important steps taken in recent weeks, including to the port of Ashdod, have nothing to do with October 7, nothing to do with it Nothing to do with it. The hostages are they – they are caught in this crossfire created by Hamas. And it’s important that they get the food they need, the water they need, the medical supplies they need, access to hospitals, health care – all of that.

This is our focus. President Biden is working tirelessly on this and will continue to do so as long as necessary.

Question: Secretary Sir, thank you very much.

Secretary Blinken: Thanks, Andrea.

Question: safe travels.

Secretary Blinken: To you too.