Biden to Send Blinken to Middle East to Firm Up Cease-Fire

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Middle East this week, President Joe Biden said, as the U.S. continues to try to cement a fragile cease-fire that ended renewed conflict in Gaza.

Biden announced the trip in a written statement Monday morning, tasking Blinken with building ties with both Israelis and Palestinians. Blinken will visit Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo, and Amman from Monday through Thursday.

It’s the latest sign that the U.S. will be called upon to steer peace efforts in the region at a time when Biden had signaled other foreign policy priorities, including reorienting supply chains and doing more to compete with China. Biden’s response to the conflict was muted for days, part of what his administration called “quiet diplomacy.”

Blinken “will meet with Israeli leaders about our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” Biden said. “He will continue our Administration’s efforts to rebuild ties to, and support for, the Palestinian people and leaders, after years of neglect.”

Biden said Blinken will also “engage other key parters in the region” to ensure aid reaches Gaza and skirts the control of Hamas.

Blinken will first travel to Jerusalem, where he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials, according to a statement from State Department Spokesman Ned Price. He’ll meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, before later holding meetings with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

“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,” Price said.

On Sunday, Blinken told ABC’s “This Week” that next steps toward peace include addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“President Biden’s focus on relentless, determined, but quiet diplomacy is what got us to where we needed to be, which was to get the violence ended as quickly as possible, to stop more human suffering, and to at least put ourselves in a position to make a turn, to make a pivot to building something more positive,” he said.

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