Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, met on Thursday with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt in Cairo to discuss the dire situation of Palestinian civilians in the Israel-Hamas war and what will happen in Gaza when the conflict ends.
Mr. Blinken also planned to speak with Mr. el-Sisi about how to prevent the intensifying conflict in the region from escalating further, U.S. officials said. Militias supported by Iran have been attacking American and Israeli forces, and the most urgent challenge to the United States is posed by the Houthis of Yemen.
U.S. officials say the Houthis have been using drones, rockets and missiles provided by Iran to fire at commercial ships and U.S. warships in the Red Sea, prompting Mr. Blinken to declare on Wednesday that there would be “consequences.”
Mr. Blinken met Mr. el-Sisi at the presidential palace after landing in a U.S. military C-17 plane from Tel Aviv.
Mr. el-Sisi has insisted since the start of the war that Israel not permanently displace Palestinians. On Wednesday, he traveled to Aqaba, Jordan, to take part in a summit on the war called by King Abdullah II. Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, which administers the Israeli-occupied West Bank, also attended the summit, just hours after meeting with Mr. Blinken in Ramallah.
The Arab leaders issued a statement that rejected “any attempts to reoccupy parts of Gaza” by Israel, and they stressed that displaced Palestinians must be able to return home.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel tried last October to get Mr. Blinken to ask Mr. el-Sisi to take Palestinian refugees, since Egypt shares a border with Gaza. Since then, the Israeli military has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, according to the Gazan health ministry. And it has destroyed many of the buildings in the tiny coastal strip and issued evacuation orders, forcing most of the two million people there to seek temporary shelter within Gaza.
Some Israeli officials have suggested that Palestinians should not be allowed to live near Gaza’s border with Israel, in order to create a security buffer zone that could help prevent another attack like the one on Oct. 7, when Israeli authorities say Hamas killed about 1,200 people in southern Israel.
Last week, two far-right cabinet officials proposed a mass resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza. All neighboring countries have refused to allow Israel to push refugees into their territories.
After a full day of meetings with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Mr. Blinken said at a news conference that he had insisted to Mr. Netanyahu that Palestinian civilians be allowed to return home as soon as conditions allowed. And he said it was U.S. policy to ensure that Palestinians are not resettled outside Gaza.
He told reporters that Mr. Netanyahu had reassured him it was not the Israeli government’s policy to move Palestinians out.