Blinken to travel to Middle East following cease-fire

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Middle East this week to meet separately with Israeli and Palestinian officials, part of the Biden administration’s continuing diplomatic efforts after a cease-fire brought an end to 11 days of violence between Israel and Hamas.

“During his trip, Secretary Blinken will meet with Israeli leaders about our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” President Biden said in a statement announcing the trip Monday morning.

“He will continue our Administration’s efforts to rebuild ties to, and support for, the Palestinian people and leaders, after years of neglect. And he will engage other key partners in the region, including on the coordinated international effort to ensure immediate assistance reaches Gaza in a way that benefits the people there and not Hamas, and on reducing the risk of further conflict in the coming months,” Biden added.

Blinken is scheduled to travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo, and Amman Monday through Thursday of this week, according to the State Department. Blinken will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials in Jerusalem before traveling on to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other officials representing the Palestinian Authority. 

“Secretary Blinken is traveling to the region to discuss essential follow-up efforts to consolidate the cease-fire and reduce risks of further conflict over the coming months,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Blinken will also meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah later on in the trip.

Biden has reaffirmed U.S. support for Israeli’s security since the agreement on a cease-fire, which went into effect late Thursday. Biden has indicated the U.S. will help Israel replenish its Iron Dome air defense system.

The president has also pledged to provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza to help rebuild areas devastated by Israeli airstrikes. Biden said last week that the U.S. would do so in “full partnership with the Palestinian Authority  not Hamas, the Authority  in a manner that does not permit Hamas to simply restock its military arsenal.”

The Biden administration has credited its behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts in helping to bring about the cease-fire last week.

Some progressives have been critical of Biden’s response to the situation, pushing him to take a harder line toward Israel for its role in the violence and do more to support Palestinians. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and others have disapproved of the administration’s new $735 million weapons deal with Israel.

“The president has been equally clear we’re committed to giving Israel the means to defend itself, especially when it comes to these indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilians,” Blinken said on ABC’s “This Week” when asked about the pressure from progressives on Sunday.

“Any country would respond to that, and we’re committed to Israel’s defense. At the same time, any arms sale is going to be done in full consultation with Congress. We’re committed to that, and we want to make sure that that process works effectively,” he said.

Biden told reporters at a news conference on Friday that there has been “no shift” in his commitment to Israel’s security and reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution for the Israelis and Palestinians.

Updated at 8:05 a.m.

Tags Antony Blinken Benjamin Netanyahu Bernie Sanders Joe Biden

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