Daily US Times: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading to the Middle East to press the Israelis, Palestinians and regional powers to build on last week’s cease-fire in Gaza by laying the groundwork for an eventual resumption in long-stalled peace talks.
President Joe Biden announced that Mr Blinken would depart on Monday for a short visit to Israel, the West Bank, Egypt and Jordan. This will be the Biden administration’s highest-level in-person meetings on the crisis that erupted earlier this month.
President Biden said in a statement that the US Secretary of State will also work with regional players in the Middle East to ensure “the coordinated international effort to ensure immediate assistance reaches Gaza.”
Biden administration had been roundly criticized for its perceived hands-off initial response to the deadly violence in Israel and Gaza, including from Democratic allies in Congress who were demanding it take a tougher line on Tel Aviv and its response to rocket attacks from Palestinian militant groups in Gaza.
The administration has defended its response to trhe violence by saying it engaged in intense, but quiet, high-level diplomacy to support a cease-fire, which was ultimately arranged last week after Egyptian mediation.
On Sunday, Blinken said that the behind-the-scenes effort led by Biden paid off, securing a truce after 11 days.
He said in an interview with CNN: “President Biden leading this effort made the judgment that we could be most effective in doing that. And ultimately, after this intensive effort across the government, we got to where everyone wanted to be, which was to end the violence.”