Blinken Touches Down in Israel, Kicks Off Regional Visit
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday arrived in Israel for an urgent Middle East tour following two weeks of intensive fighting between Israel and Hamas. Blinken was welcomed on the tarmac by Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Israeli ambassador to the US and to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, and later met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. He was scheduled to meet later on Tuesday with Yair Lapid, who currently holds the mandate to form a government following Israel’s March elections. Washington’s top diplomat will travel to Ramallah on Tuesday for a sit-down with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, before departing for Cairo and later Amman to meet the Egyptian president and Jordanian king. Blinken will look to secure a lasting truce between Jerusalem and Gaza, building on the cease-fire brokered between Israel and Hamas last week by Egypt. On Tuesday, Israel’s military reopened border crossings into the Gaza Strip, allowing entrance for humanitarian supplies and personnel while also renewing fishing permits for Palestinians within a six-mile radius of the coastal enclave.