In light of growing worries that the raging Israel-Hamas war could degenerate into a bigger regional confrontation, President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday before continuing on to Jordan.
Biden’s trip to Israel was announced by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken as the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip worsens and Israel gets ready for what could be a ground invasion of the 141-square-mile (365-square-kilometer) territory to hunt down the Hamas militants behind the alleged deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust.
Biden wants to make clearer than ever that the United States supports Israel. His Democratic administration has promised to send American carriers and aid to the area, as well as military help. Officials have stated that they will seek Congress for an additional $2 billion in funding for Israel and Ukraine, which is defending itself against Russian aggression.
With the 2024 race just over a year away, Biden has the opportunity to strengthen his national security credentials in the eyes of American voters. It’s also a chance for him to show that, after four years of the former president Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy, he is acting on his campaign vow to assert American leadership.
But given the growing number of civilian casualties in Gaza, Biden’s attendance can be perceived as aggressive by Iran, the main financial backer of Hamas, or as tone-deaf by Arab countries. The past week has already seen Blinken travelling throughout the Middle East in an effort to stop the confrontation with Hamas from spreading to other parts of the area.
After more than seven hours of discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials, Blinken delivered the news early on Tuesday.
“He is coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region and for the world,” Blinken said.
Blinken added that Biden will be briefed by Israeli officials on their war aims and strategy and would hear about how they intend to conduct operations “in a way that minimizes civilian casualties and enables humanitarian assistance to flow to civilians in Gaza in a way that does not benefit Hamas.”
Biden would also travel to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby confirmed shortly after in Washington.
“We’ve been crystal clear about the need for humanitarian aid to be able to continue to flow into Gaza,” Kirby said. “That has been a consistent call by President Biden and certainly by this entire administration.”
As inhabitants and humanitarian organisations pleaded for water, food, and fuel for dying generators, truckloads of supplies sat idle Monday at Egypt’s border with Gaza, blocked from entry. They claimed that the tiny Palestinian area cut off by Israel after last week’s Hamas assault was on the verge of collapse.
In order to speak with his advisers and other leaders about the developing situation in the Middle East, Biden opted to postpone his planned trip to Pueblo, Colorado, on Monday.
The comments came after Biden met with three world leaders and his own national security team on Monday amid mounting public anxiety about the Gaza Strip’s humanitarian situation and concerns that the Israel-Hamas war would spread to other parts of the region.
In phone conversations with Egyptian President el-Sissi, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Biden discussed the effects of the surprise attacks by Hamas terrorists on Israel that resulted in 1,400 deaths and the retaliatory strikes that have resulted in at least 2,778 deaths of Palestinians.
As worries grow that the conflict between Israel and Hamas could exacerbate tensions in Europe and attract more refugees in search of safety, European Union officials will meet in an emergency session on Tuesday.
One day after el-Sissi and Blinken’s meeting in Cairo, Biden spoke with the Egyptian president. According to state-run Egyptian media, el-Sissi informed Blinken that Israel’s Gaza campaign had gone beyond “the right of self-defense” and had become “a collective punishment.”
Kirby declined to comment on el-Sissi’s concerns about how Israel is conducting the war.