U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to visit Israel late next week as part of a Mideast diplomatic swing to discuss the war in Gaza and other regional crises, Axios reported on Wednesday.
It will be the American diplomat’s fourth trip to the Middle East and fifth visit to Israel since Hamas’s bloody invasion of the northwestern Negev on Oct. 7.
The report cited five Israeli, Arab and U.S. officials who indicated that Blinken would likely arrive in the Jewish state next Friday.
He is also expected to visit the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
On Tuesday, Blinken met with Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer in Washington. Dermer also met with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
According to the White House, the Dermer-Sullivan discussion revolved around “efforts to free the remaining hostages held by Hamas, the plan for the day after the war—including the administration and security in the Gaza Strip—and moving to another phase in the fighting aimed at targeting high-value Hamas targets.”
Israel and the United States have been at odds over Gaza’s post-war future, with the Biden administration taking the position that the Palestinian Authority is the best choice to govern the enclave once Hamas is defeated.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that there is no way the P.A. will be allowed to rule the Gaza Strip, noting that it also supports terrorism.
The countries have also sent different messages on the next phase of the war, with the United States signaling it wants Israel to move to a less intense, more targeted approach while the IDF expands its ground campaign. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi reiterated on Tuesday that the war will “continue for many more months.”
The United States has so far backed Jerusalem’s military efforts, delivering more than 10,000 tons of military weapons and equipment to Israel since the start of the war on Oct. 7.