President Biden to visit Israel on Wednesday 0

US President Joe Biden will pay a solidarity visit to Israel on Wednesday following the Hamas attacks, said Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who also announced that Israel had agreed to work on civilian aid for Gaza.

Blinken spoke after meeting for nearly eight hours at the defence ministry with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the top US diplomat’s second visit since the October 7 attacks by Hamas.

“The president will reaffirm United States solidarity with Israel and our ironclad commitment to its security,” Blinken said early Tuesday in Tel Aviv.

“Israel has the right and indeed the duty to defend its people from Hamas and other terrorists and to prevent future attacks,” Blinken said.

Biden “will hear from Israel what it needs to defend his people as we continue to work with Congress to meet those needs,” he said.

Biden will visit Tel Aviv, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in Washington. He also announced that Biden would travel to Jordan where he would meet Jordanian King Abdullah II, Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Blinken said that the United States also secured assurances from Israel on working to bring foreign assistance into the impoverished and blockaded Gaza Strip as Israel prepares a ground offensive against the Hamas-ruled territory.

US officials said that a new US coordinator on humanitarian aid, David Satterfield, would work with Israel to develop more concrete plans.

Biden hopes to “hear from Israel how it will conduct its operations in a way that minimises civilian casualties and enables humanitarian assistance to flow to civilians in Gaza in a way that does not benefit Hama,” Blinken said.

“At our request, the United States and Israel have agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza,” Blinken said.

He said the two sides were discussing the “possibility of creating areas to help keep civilians out of harm’s way.”

“We welcome the government of Israel’s commitment to work on this plan. The president very much looks forward to discussing it further when he’s here on Wednesday,” he said.

Biden has vowed unwavering solidarity with Israel after suffering the worst attack in its 75-year history. But he also has voiced concern about more severe proposals that could impact civilians in Gaza and earlier pressed Israel to reverse a decision to shut off water supply.

“We share Israel’s concern that Hamas may seize or destroy aid going entering Gaza or otherwise preventing it from reaching the people who need it,” Blinken said.

“If Hamas in any way blocks humanitarian aid from reaching civilians, including by seizing the aid itself, we’ll be the first to condemn it and we will work to prevent it from happening again.”

Source: AFP