US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to arrive next week in Israel for a visit that has not yet been formally announced, Haaretz reported.
The Secretary is expected to meet with top Israeli government and other officials on Monday. He will meet for talks with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority the next day, according to Arab sources.
Last week White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also visited the Jewish State for talks with the newly installed *Netanyahu government and with leaders of the Palestinian Authority.
Blinken is expected to focus on “coordinating expectations” between the Biden Administration and the new Netanyahu government, along with preparing the groundwork for a visit by Israel’s prime minister to the White House, reportedly set for next month.
Among other issues, Blinken is expected to discuss the new government’s plan to reform the justice system, the current tensions over the Temple Mount, Israel’s counter terrorism efforts against attacks emanating from the Palestinian Authority, the PA’s efforts to drag Israel to the International Criminal Court, Russia’s war against Ukraine, and Iran.
During his conversation earlier this month with Jordan’s foreign minister, Blinken wrote in a tweet that he “expressed support for preserving the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount compound.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly emphasized his support for maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount, throughout every government he has led since the 1990s, and including this time around.
Sullivan Reiterates US Focus on ‘2-State Solution’
While in Jerusalem, ullivan met with Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog, and members of the senior national security team including Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, National Security Advisor (NSA) Tzachi Hanegbi, Mossad Director David Barnea, and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Major General Herzi Halevi.
As has his predecessors, Sullivan “restated the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and to countering the continued threats posed by Iran to Israel, the United States, and the wider region,” according to a US readout from the National Security Council. He also stressed the US commitment to ensure Iran can never acquire a nuclear weapon and discussed Ukraine, as well as the intensifying defense partnership between Russia and Iran, and its implications for security in the Middle East.
Sullivan “underscored President Biden’s commitment to promoting a more integrated, prosperous, and secure Middle East region with benefits for all of its people, as exemplified by the recent Negev Forum Working Groups in Abu Dhabi,” according to the readout.
During his visit, Sullivan joined Hanegbi in holding a virtual quadrilateral meeting with their counterparts, Bahraini NSA H.E. Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa and UAE NSA H.E. Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to further coordination in the fields of clean energy, emerging technology, regional security, and commercial relations.
“In all of his meetings, Mr. Sullivan recalled that the United States’ longstanding partnership with Israel, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is built on mutual interests and democratic values” and “stressed the Administration will continue to support the two-state solution, and will discourage policies that endanger its viability,” according to the readout.
“Mr. Sullivan underscored the urgency of avoiding unilateral steps by any party that could inflame tensions on the ground, with special attention to maintaining the historic status quo with respect to the holy places in Jerusalem,” the readout said.
In Ramallah, Sullivan met with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to “reaffirm the US administration’s interest in strengthening engagement with the Palestinian Authority and deepening ties with the Palestinian people.
“They discussed US support for peace, preserving the path towards negotiations for two states, and advancing equal measures of security, prosperity, and freedom for Israelis and Palestinians,” according to the readout.
Sullivan reviewed US commitments to the Palestinian Authority, including support for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network and establishment of 4G infrastructure in PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria.
According to the readout, he also “discussed the need for Palestinian leaders to help de-escalate tensions in the West Bank and to strengthen Palestinian institutions.”