US President Biden to visit Israel, Jordan on Wednesday: White House

Arab and Gulf states have been at the forefront of pressing the US to push Israel not to target civilians and to ensure that badly needed humanitarian aid can get to Gazans.

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US President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday to demonstrate his “steadfast support” for the country as it prepares to launch a military operation against Hamas after its “brutal terrorist attack.”

The White House said Biden and Israeli officials will also “consult on next steps.”

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Following his stop in Israel, the US president will head to Amman, Jordan, to meet with King Abdullah, Egyptian President Sisi, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the same day. “He will reiterate that Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination and discuss the humanitarian needs of civilians in Gaza,” the White House said ahead of his trip.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said early Tuesday in Tel Aviv that Biden would reaffirm Washington’s ironclad commitment to Israel’s security.

National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the US was not dictating military terms and operational mandates to the Israeli military. Asked about ensuring the safety of civilians, Kirby said the US was always looking to protect innocent civilians.

However, he would not commit to holding the Israeli military to that standard. “We are not putting conditions on the military assistance that we are providing to Israel,” Kirby said when asked about this.

Arab and Gulf states have been at the forefront of pressing the US to push Israel not to target civilians and to ensure that badly needed humanitarian aid can get to Gazans. Israel cut off water and electricity earlier in the week and called on the residents to leave Gaza. Arab capitals and the UN pushed back and criticized the move. On Monday, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin thanked his Israeli counterpart for efforts to restore safe drinking water access in Gaza.

“Israel has the right and indeed the duty to defend its people from Hamas and other terrorists and to prevent future attacks,” Blinken said.

Biden “will hear from Israel what it needs to defend his people as we continue to work with Congress to meet those needs,” he said.

Blinken said that the United States also secured assurances from Israel on working to bring foreign assistance into the impoverished and blockaded Gaza Strip as Israel prepares a ground offensive against the Hamas-ruled territory.

Biden hopes to “hear from Israel how it will conduct its operations in a way that minimises civilian casualties and enables humanitarian assistance to flow to civilians in Gaza in a way that does not benefit Hama,” Blinken said.

“At our request, the United States and Israel have agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza,” Blinken said.

He said the two sides were discussing the “possibility of creating areas to help keep civilians out of harm’s way.”

Read more: Rapid response Marine unit headed to waters off Israel: US official

With AFP

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