Blinken to Arrive in Israel Tuesday, Kicking Off Mideast Tour

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington
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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pauses while speaking at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, D.C., U.S. this month.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pauses while speaking at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, D.C., U.S. this month. Credit: Andrew Harnik,AP
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday that he is sending Secretary of State Antony Blinken on his first official visit to Israel on Tuesday as a continuation of the "quiet, intensive diplomacy" that led to a ceasefire between Jerusalem and Gaza after 11 days of hostilities.

Blinken is set to arrive in Jerusalem Tuesday, and will tour other countries in the region until May 27. 

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While there, Blinken will meet with Israeli leaders regarding the United States' "ironclad commitment to Israel's security," Biden said. He reiterated his recent commitment to replenish the Iron Dome missile defense system and see through a $735 million arms sale to Israel, despite opposition from progressive Democrats.

The State Department said Blinken will meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuForeign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and other senior Israeli officials. 

In Ramallah, he will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, and other senior officials from the Palestinian Authority. 

Blinken will then travel to Cairo to meet with President Abdel Fattah Al Sissi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. This comes after the administration credited Egypt with playing a central role in mediating the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

He will conclude his trip with a stop in Amman to meet with King Abdullah and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

The secretary of state had also been in contact with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi throughout the conflict; the two previously discussed the tensions in the West Bank, Israel and on the Temple Mount.

Blinken will also continue the administration’s "efforts to rebuild ties to, and support for, the Palestinian people and leaders, after years of neglect," Biden added.

Over the past several months, the administration has restored aid to the Palestinian Authority and the UN agency dealing with Palestinian refugees; both of these relief programs were cut by former U.S. President Donald Trump. His administration has also committed to reopening the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem, also shuttered by Trump, though it has not yet done so. 

Biden concluded that Blinken "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." 

Blinken described Jordan as "the closest of partners in dealing with the many challenges that we face together in the region, a very valued and trusted advisor as we confront these issues, as well as some of the real opportunities that are out there."

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