Blinken arrives in Israel prior to meeting with Netanyahu

Secretary of State Blinken, Israeli PM Netanyahu deliver joint statement

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning prior to a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the wake of a deadly 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Blinken was there to, in part, bolster the ceasefire agreement. After the meeting with Netanyahu, the top U.S. diplomat is expected to tour Ramallah, Cairo and Amman. He also plans to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. 

President Biden said in a statement that Blinken will “continue our administration’s efforts to rebuild ties to, and support for, the Palestinian people and their leaders, after years of neglect.”

Blinken posted on Twitter prior to the high-profile visit that besides the ceasefire, “we were also focused on the road ahead, including steps we could take to build a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.”

On Sunday, Blinken credited Biden’s effort leading up to the ceasefire and said the president is still committed to a two-state solution in the region. The conflict between Israel and Hamas resulted in more than 250 deaths, mostly Palestinians and sparked protests and violent confrontations around the world.

The conflict started after clashes in Jerusalem between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Palestinians had been protesting eviction threats aimed at dozens of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah by Jewish settlers.

Biden faced an unusual amount of pressure from members of the progressive wing of the Democrat Party over the U.S.’s support of Israel. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., criticized a $735 million weapons sale to Israel.

“At a moment when U.S.-made bombs are devastating Gaza and killing women and children, we cannot simply let another huge arms sale go through without even a congressional debate,” Sanders said in a statement.

Tension in the region is still high. On Monday, an Israeli soldier and a civilian were stabbed and wounded in east Jerusalem before police shot and killed the assailant in what they described as a terrorist attack.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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