The United States has circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution calling for an "immediate ceasefire linked to the release of hostages" in the Gaza Strip, Antony Blinken said. Secretary of State began a tour of the Middle East on Wednesday.

The United States, Israel's main backer, has previously used its UN Security Council veto to block the world body from calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Palestinian territory. However, over time, the Biden administration has taken an increasingly critical stance on Israel's actions.

"We support Israel and its right to self-defense. But at the same time, we need to focus on protecting the civilian population caught in the conflict zone and suffering greatly, ensuring their humanitarian needs," Blinken told the Al-Hadath channel.

Since blocking an Algerian draft resolution at the end of February, calling for an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire" in the Gaza Strip, the US officials have been negotiating an alternative text focusing on support for diplomatic efforts on the ground for a six-week truce in exchange for the release of hostages.