LIVE UPDATES: Biden admin plans on traveling to the Middle East this week


The Biden administration is set to travel to the Middle East this week as Israel and Hamas continue to obey a cease-fire after 11 days of fighting.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in a phone call Thursday that he plans on traveling to the region “in the coming days” to meet with his Israeli, Palestinian and regional counterparts, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a readout of the conversation. 

“The Foreign Minister welcomed Secretary Blinken’s planned travel to the region,” the readout stated. It added that the sides will “discuss recovery efforts,” and work “together to build better futures for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Blinken has insisted that the administration wants to ensure an equal peace between Israel and the Palestinians. 

FAST FACTS

    • On Sunday, hundreds of municipal workers and volunteers started a one-week campaign to clear rubble from Gaza City’s streets
    • Critics – both foreign and domestic – have questioned President Biden on his stance after he reiterated his full support of Israel

“It’s vitally important that the Palestinians feel hope and have opportunity and can live in security just as it is for Israelis,” Blinken told ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos. “And there should be equal measures.”

“The president has been very clear that he remains committed to a two-state solution,” Blinken added. “Ultimately, it is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state and of course, the only way to give the Palestinians the state to which they’re entitled.”

The apparent truce followed the most intense clashes between Israel and Hamas since 2014. 

The fighting started on May 10, when Hamas militants in Gaza fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem. The barrage occurred following days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The recent war saw Israel unleash hundreds of airstrikes across Gaza. Hamas and other armed groups fired more than 4,000 rockets toward Israel, most of which were intercepted by the country’s missile defense system, known as the “Iron Dome,” or landed in open areas. 

At least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women, were killed in the fighting, according to Palestinian health officials. At least 12 people in Israel, including two children, died in the conflict. 

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