Blinken to Visit Israel and Three Arab States Next Week


Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken plans to visit Israel and three Arab states next week, as the U.S. presses for a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas to end the war in Gaza.

Mr. Blinken is scheduled to travel to Israel, Egypt, Qatar and Jordan from Monday through Wednesday, Matthew Miller, the State Department spokesman, said in a statement on Friday. The trip, which will be his eighth visit to the region since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks that set off the war, comes at a particularly tense moment.

The Biden administration is trying hard to stop the fighting in Gaza in hopes of freeing Israeli — and some Israeli-American — hostages held by Hamas and ending a conflict that has exacted a grievous toll in lives, physically devastated most of Gaza and created political pressure on President Biden to restrict U.S. arms deliveries to Israel.

Relations between the Biden administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel are particularly fraught in the wake of Mr. Biden’s decision to hold up the delivery of American 2,000-pound bombs, a move meant to ensure that they are not used in the sort of “full-scale invasion” of the Gazan city of Rafah that Mr. Biden has said he opposes.

Mr. Blinken’s travels also come as worries are rising that fighting might escalate along Israel’s northern border with the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran. The exchanges of fire have prompted evacuations on both sides of the border.

A cease-fire would “unlock the possibility of achieving calm along Israel’s northern border — so both displaced Israeli and Lebanese families can return to their homes,” Mr. Miller’s statement said.

Qatar and Egypt have each played roles as mediators between Hamas and Israel, which do not negotiate directly.

Israel recently strained relations with Egypt by seizing “tactical control” of a buffer zone on the Egypt-Gaza border, known as the Philadelphi Corridor.

In Jordan, Mr. Blinken is expected to attend a conference on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza co-hosted by Jordan, Egypt, and the United Nations.



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