In a bold demonstration of support for its long-standing ally, President Joe Biden is set to travel to Israel on Wednesday, as his administration grapples with the challenging task of preventing the Israel-Hamas conflict from evolving into a broader Middle East crisis. The visit was confirmed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his overnight meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv.
Blinken emphasized the significance of President Biden’s visit, stating, “He’s coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region and for the world.” The trip comes on the heels of a week and a half of escalating tensions, initiated by a surprise attack from Hamas, which resulted in the tragic loss of at least 1,300 Israeli lives. In response, Israel launched a series of retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza, resulting in a combined death toll of over 4,000, with approximately 2,800 casualties in Gaza and more than 10,000 individuals wounded. Tragically, this conflict has also claimed the lives of at least 30 Americans in Israel.
During his visit, President Biden is expected to reaffirm the United States’ unwavering support for Israel’s right to defend itself against the Hamas attack. The President will travel to Tel Aviv, where he will engage in bilateral talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli officials.
Secretary Blinken noted that President Biden will closely listen to Israeli leaders to understand their specific requirements for defending their nation. Concurrently, the White House is actively pursuing approval from Congress to provide military assistance to Israel in these trying times.
Israeli authorities have issued a warning to Palestinians residing in northern Gaza to relocate to the southern region in anticipation of a potential ground offensive. This has sparked concerns that other Middle Eastern nations may become involved in the conflict.
Secretary Blinken issued a stern message, stating, “President Biden will underscore our crystal-clear message to any actor, state, or non-state trying to take advantage of this crisis to attack Israel. Don’t.”
President Biden has consistently cautioned hostile parties, including terrorist groups and nations, against exploiting the Israel-Hamas conflict to further their own interests. Notably, he directed a pointed warning at Iran, emphasizing the need for caution.
However, Iranian officials have issued statements suggesting that the expansion of the Israel-Hamas War may be inevitable. This raises concerns about a potential larger conflict in the region. Iran is known to be a key ally of Hamas, although the Biden administration has not found any evidence linking Iran to the initial attack on Israel.
President Biden’s trip to Pueblo, Colorado, which was scheduled for Monday to discuss renewable energy initiatives, was canceled in order to arrange this visit to Israel. John Kirby, a White House spokesman for national security issues, stated that President Biden’s primary purpose is to “affirm our solidarity with Israel” and to gain insights into Israel’s military operations and strategy.
During his visit, President Biden will also address the issue of hostages held by Hamas and explore ways to coordinate efforts to bring American citizens back to the United States.
When asked about the safety of President Biden’s trip to the region, Kirby reassured, “We wouldn’t make a trip, obviously, if we did not believe that proper security measures would be in place.”
In addition to his visit to Israel, President Biden is scheduled to travel to Amman, Jordan, where he will engage with King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. During these meetings, President Biden is expected to express his concern that Hamas does not represent the majority of the Palestinian people and discuss the humanitarian needs of all civilians in Gaza.