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Blinken Embarks on Middle East Trip Amid Escalating Gaza Conflict and Heightened Criticism

by Michael Nguyen
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The U.S. Department of State announced on Wednesday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to travel to Israel and Jordan later this week in the midst of escalating military activities in Gaza and rising global condemnation of Israel’s actions.

Scheduled to leave Washington D.C. on Thursday, Blinken will arrive in Israel and Jordan on Friday. The trip could emulate the rapid tempo of his previous visit to the region, which was carried out following the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7. That journey involved multiple last-minute alterations to the itinerary, with Blinken making three separate visits to Israel and six other trips to Arab countries.

Blinken enters into an intricate diplomatic landscape that is poised to make his mission more complex. Jordan, in a move announced on Wednesday, has withdrawn its ambassador to Israel and has barred the Israeli ambassador to Jordan from re-entering the country until the Gaza situation has been resolved.

Matthew Miller, the spokesman for the State Department, indicated that Blinken will re-emphasize the Biden administration’s endorsement of Israel’s right to self-defense, while also highlighting the necessity of reducing civilian casualties and guaranteeing humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza.

Key objectives for Blinken during this diplomatic endeavor include the liberation of hundreds of Israelis and others detained by Hamas in Gaza, facilitating the movement of dual Palestinian nationals and other foreign citizens currently in Gaza into Egypt, and averting the escalation of the conflict into a broader regional warfare.

In addition, Blinken aims to initiate discussions with both Israel and Jordan regarding long-term resolutions for the Gaza conflict. He will advocate for Israeli authorities to control acts of violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Furthermore, he will reassert U.S. support for the future establishment of a Palestinian state encompassing both the West Bank and Gaza.

Miller also mentioned that Blinken will discuss “the U.S. commitment to collaborate with partners to create the groundwork for a lasting and sustainable peace in the Middle East, including the formation of a Palestinian state that meets the expectations of the Palestinian populace in both Gaza and the West Bank.”

While some progress was made on Wednesday concerning the evacuation of foreign nationals, including a limited number of Americans, from Gaza to Egypt, a substantial number still remain who wish to depart.

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