update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Blinken to visit Israel on heels of trips from two State Department officials

Barbara Leaf, an assistant secretary of state, is in the region to “advance efforts to prevent the conflict in the Middle East from spreading.” Derek Chollet, a department counselor, is also in Israel.

Barbara Leaf, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. Credit: State Department.
Barbara Leaf, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. Credit: State Department.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Israel on Friday for an update from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials “on their military objectives and their plans for meeting those objectives,” Matthew Miller, U.S. State Department spokesman, said on Wednesday.

Blinken will also visit Jordan, Japan, Korea and India, according to the department, which said the trip will span from Nov. 2 to Nov. 10.

The secretary’s visit to Israel comes on the heels of the ongoing trip of Barbara Leaf, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Egypt, Jordan and Israel—in that order, with the possibility of additional stops. Per State Department schedules, Leaf has been on travel since Oct. 25.

Leaf’s trip is intended to “consult with regional partners and advance efforts to prevent the conflict in the Middle East from spreading,” per the department. “She will discuss humanitarian solutions to protect civilians while reiterating U.S. support for a region that advances the aspirations of all its people.”

It wasn’t clear from the State Department announcements when she would be in each place, although Miller confirmed on Tuesday that Leaf would be in Beirut on Nov. 1.

Leaf met in Qatar on Friday with the prime minister and foreign affairs minister. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the state, which houses senior Hamas leaders, stated that the meeting “dealt with discussing developments in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, and how to de-escalate.” (In 2005, Israel vacated the Gaza Strip, which has since been under Hamas control.)

Separately, Foggy Bottom announced on Wednesday that Derek Chollet, a counselor to the department, is traveling today to Israel “to reaffirm the United States’s commitment to stand in solidarity with Israel and support its right to defend itself, consistent with international humanitarian law.”

Chollet will “engage with partners and allies to continue our work to prevent the conflict from spreading to other parts of the region, help secure the release of all hostages, including U.S. citizens, and discuss efforts to assist U.S. citizens while ensuring the protection of civilians and the expanded provision of humanitarian assistance into Gaza,” the department stated. 

He will subsequently travel to Jordan and Turkey.

Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, led a delegation of the organization in Qatar from Monday until Wednesday “for pivotal discussions with leaders in Qatar.”

Lauder “articulated the profound concerns of global Jewry regarding the plight of Israeli hostages in Gaza, seeking the influential intervention of the Arab leaders to secure their unconditional release,” stated a WJC release.

The Qatari leaders “acknowledged the gravity of the situation” and told the WJC delegation, which included top British, French and Swiss Jewish leaders, that they were committed to the immediate release of the hostages, according to the Jewish group.

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