US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit Israel this month for talks with the new government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a report Monday by Yediot Ahronot.
The visit will follow a trip to Israel on January 19 by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan that will focus on the war in Ukraine, the Iranian threat, relations with the Palestinian Authority and its attempt to sue Israel in the International Court of Justice. Sullivan is expected to meet with newly installed Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, as well as Netanyahu.
During his own visit, Blinken is expected to meet with Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, while launching preparations for a visit to Washington by Netanyahu next month.
The talks will take place against the background of a decision by the new government to impose sanctions on the Palestinian Authority in response to its international lawfare campaign against the Jewish State, as well as concerns over Iran and a visit last week to the Temple Mount by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir.
Blinken’s conversation with Netanyahu won’t be their first by a long shot: In May 2021, then-Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed Blinken to Jerusalem during his first visit to the capital as Secretary of State. As will be the case this month, Netanyahu focused on persuading the United States to take action against Iran, rather than signing a revived JCPOA nuclear deal.
The State Department – and Blinken – condemned Ben Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount, his first as a government minister but certainly not his first as an observant Jew.
Blinken discussed the issue with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi during their call last week, he said, adding that he had “expressed support for preserving the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. Our strategic partnership remains vital to a more integrated, stable, and prosperous region,” Blinken wrote in the tweet.
Productive call today with Jordanian Foreign Minister @AymanHsafadi. I expressed support for preserving the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. Our strategic partnership remains vital to a more integrated, stable, and prosperous region.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) January 7, 2023
A statement from the State Department added that Blinken “expressed appreciation for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s special role as custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.: He also reaffirmed US support for the two-state solution, the Negev Forum, and a “just political solution in Syria consistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.”