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Blinken to visit Israel for sixth time since Oct. 7

The top American diplomat's most recent visit was reportedly tense, as he pressed Jerusalem to shift towards a less intensive phase in the war.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds a press conference in Tel Aviv on Jan. 9. 2024. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds a press conference in Tel Aviv on Jan. 9. 2024. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Israel for three days beginning on Feb. 3, his sixth trip to the Jewish state since Hamas invaded the northwestern Negev on Oct. 7.

Blinken was in the country earlier this month for a series of meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other members of the War Cabinet.

The American diplomat’s most recent visit was reportedly tense, as he pressed Jerusalem to shift towards a less intensive third phase in its war against Hamas.

The Biden administration is exploring the possibility of leveraging arms shipments to Israel to place pressure on Netanyahu to scale back the fighting even more, NBC News reported on Sunday.

John Kirby, spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, later appeared to deny the report, telling reporters, “There has not been a change in our policy.”

During his last visit, Blinken also expressed support for “tangible steps” towards the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, speaking during a meeting with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Meanwhile, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana is scheduled to head to Washington next week for a diplomatic visit during which he is expected to meet with the Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson.

Ohana has invited Thomas Hand, the father of 9-year-old Emily Hand, who was freed from Hamas captivity as part of a ceasefire in November, to join his visit along with other family members of hostages.

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