WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to travel to the Middle East on Sunday. His trip is scheduled to include visits to Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
According to the US State Department, Blinken’s first stop will be Cairo, where he will meet with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and senior Egyptian officials “to advance the US-Egypt strategic partnership and promote peace and security in the region, including through shared support for elections in Libya and the ongoing Sudanese-led political process.”
Aims of his visit to Israel
On Monday, Blinken is expected to arrive in Israel, where he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and other senior leaders “to discuss the enduring US support for Israel’s security, particularly against threats from Iran.”
“The Secretary will also discuss Israel’s deepening integration into the region, Israeli-Palestinian relations and the importance of a two-state solution, and a range of other global and regional issues,” the State Department announced.
In the West Bank, Blinken will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and senior PA officials “to discuss Israeli-Palestinian relations and the importance of a two-state solution, political reforms, and further strengthening the US relationship with the Palestinian people and leadership.”
“With both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the Secretary will underscore the urgent need for the parties to take steps to de-escalate tensions in order to put an end to the cycle of violence that has claimed too many innocent lives,” the State Department said. “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.”
Blinken’s three-day visit to the Middle East will include discussions on “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, among other topics,” the State Department said. “The Secretary will engage with civil society throughout the trip to underscore our commitment to human rights, support for civil society, and the enduring importance of people-to-people ties.”
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf addressed a question on Thursday regarding the upcoming trip and the US-Israel cooperation on Iran.
“I would describe the place we are with the Israeli government is kind of a seamless transition from one government to another – it’s really a fundamental alignment of our perspective on the multi-headed nature of the threat that Iran poses,” she said. “It’s obviously significant in the untrammeled unrestrained nuclear program and the lack of insight that we have and that the IAEA has into the dimensions of that program.”
“There’s a real convergence of views on the nature of the threat and increasingly an alignment of our efforts to apply political and economic pressure and deter Iran from some of its really egregious activities,” she added.
In a briefing, Leaf also addressed a question about Israel’s judicial reform and said Blinken “is going to have an opportunity to hear from a wide swath of Israelis, both inside and outside of government, and it’s clear that this issue of the judicial legislation packages is one that’s sparked intense debate within Israeli society.”
“It’s clearly a measure of the vibrancy of the democracy,” she said, adding that Blinken “is going to be interested to hear people’s views on this.”