Wed, 04 Oct 2023

Blinken Heading to Egypt, Israel, and West Bank

Voice of America
27 Jan 2023, 04:06 GMT+10

State Department - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading to Egypt, Israel, and the West Bank in the coming days, with Ukraine aid, growing Russia-Iran alignment, and the de-escalation of Israeli-Palestinian tensions high on his agenda.

The State Department said Thursday Blinken will consult with partners on issues that include "Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Iran, Israeli-Palestinian relations and preserving the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the protection of human rights and democratic values."

Israel has provided medical and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine but avoided sending lethal military equipment to Kyiv, a move that could upset Moscow and hurt Israel's security interests in neighboring Syria, given Russia's involvement in that war-torn country.

The United States continues to seek Israel's support for Ukraine, while refraining from criticizing Israel's posture on the Russia-Ukraine war.

Blinken's visit to the Middle East from January 29-31 follows White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan's meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders from January 18-20, when the White House says Sullivan restated Washington's "unwavering commitment to Israel's security" to counter the continued threats posed by Iran.

U.S. officials have accused Iran of providing drones to Russia for Moscow's use in Ukraine, calling such military assistance "deeply destabilizing."

Iran has acknowledged supplying Russia with drones but maintains the transfer came before Moscow's war in Ukraine.

During his trip, Blinken will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and other senior officials in Jerusalem. In the West Bank, Blinken will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior PA officials.

"With both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the secretary will underscore the urgent need for the parties to take steps to deescalate tensions in order to put an end to the cycle of violence that has claimed too many innocent lives," according to a State Department statement. "He also will discuss the importance of upholding the historic status quo the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in Jerusalem, in words and in actions."

In early January, after a visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound by an ultranationalist Israeli Cabinet minister, U.N. Security Council members gathered to reaffirm the need to preserve the historic status quo at Jerusalem's holy sites.

In Cairo, the secretary of state will meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to advance the U.S.-Egypt strategic partnership, discuss shared support for elections in Libya and the ongoing Sudanese-led political process.

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