Biden to visit Israel on Wednesday

‘He’s coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region and for the world,’ says Secretary of State Antony Blinken

US President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday, said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Blinken’s announcement came during a news conference early Tuesday in Tel Aviv after a seven-and-a-half-hour meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet.

“He’s coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region and for the world,” Blinken said.

“The president will reaffirm United States solidarity with Israel and our ironclad commitment to its security.”

Biden will also “underscore our crystal clear message to any actor, state or non-state trying to take advantage of this crisis to attack Israel,” he added.

He will also continue to coordinate closely with Israel to secure the release of hostages taken by the Palestinian group Hamas and will receive a “comprehensive brief” on Israel’s war aims and strategy, said the top diplomat.

“The president will hear from Israel how it will conduct its operations in a way that minimizes civilian casualties and enables humanitarian assistance to flow to civilians in Gaza in a way that does not benefit Hamas,” he continued.

Blinken also said the US and Israel “have agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations, multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza and them alone, including the possibility of creating areas to help keep civilians out of harm’s way.”

“It is critical that aid begin flowing into Gaza as soon as possible,” he added.

Biden’s visit comes as Gaza faces a looming humanitarian crisis under a heavy Israeli bombardment and blockade and as Israel is expected to launch a ground offensive.

Blinken arrived in Israel on Thursday and later extended his trip to Arab nations, with stops in Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. He traveled back to Israel on Monday, where he met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

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