US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has landed in Israel, marking the beginning of a significant diplomatic visit amidst the ongoing tension in the region.
Engagement with Israeli Leadership
Upon his arrival, Blinken was welcomed at the airport by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and other officials. Though he chose not to give a statement to the waiting media, the agenda of his visit is quite clear. During his time in Israel, Blinken will be engaging with prominent Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog, to discuss the recent upheavals and chart a way forward.
Blinken’s Assurance to Israel
Before departing from Joint Base Andrews, Blinken shared his intentions for the trip with reporters. He emphasized the commitment of the United States to Israel’s security and sovereignty, saying, “We have the back of the Israeli people. We have their back today. We’ll have it tomorrow. We will have it every day.” He reaffirmed the US’s resolution to ensure Israel possesses the means to safeguard itself and called out the actions of Hamas, likening them to the cruelty exhibited by groups like the Islamic State.
Efforts for Hostages’ Release
A significant component of Blinken’s mission is the safe return of hostages, including those of American nationality. The Secretary of State is set to collaborate with Israeli counterparts to locate and secure their release, underscoring the urgency and importance the US places on the lives of its citizens abroad.
Addressing Hamas and Counter-Responses
When asked about the Biden administration’s stance on Israel’s response to Hamas’s attacks, Blinken asserted that Israel, like any other nation, would take necessary precautions to protect its people. He drew a distinction between the democratic processes of nations like Israel and the activities of groups like Hamas.
Engagement with Palestinian Authority
Following his engagements in Israel, Blinken is scheduled to travel to Amman, Jordan. There, he will be meeting with senior Jordanian officials and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. President Abbas will be accompanied by a delegation comprising of PA intelligence chief Majed Faraj and PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh, according to a Palestinian official.