Joe Biden Announces Unexpected Wartime Visit to Israel as US Struggles to Get Americans Out of Gaza
President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Israel on Wednesday, October 18 at a pivotal juncture in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “He’s coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region, and for the world,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced during a brief press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. Under intense Israeli shelling, about 600 Americans are trapped in the blockaded Gaza enclave, CNBC News reports.
In light of Israel's leadership preparing for a major offensive in the Gaza Strip that has increased the likelihood of a regional conflict against militant groups backed by Iran, Biden's visit is intended to reaffirm his support for America's closest Middle Eastern ally. A presidential tour presents several political and security challenges ahead of Israel's impending ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, reports the Wall Street Journal.
It also coincides with growing worries about the Americans who are stuck in Gaza, a wider confrontation in the Middle East, and an increasingly dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, which has been under Israeli government siege since Hamas' terrorist attack on southern Israel on October 7.
Biden's wartime visit like this is unprecedented for a US president, the Washington Post reports. He is scheduled to visit Amman, Jordan, where he will meet with officials of the Palestinian Authority and Egypt to talk about humanitarian concerns and the ongoing war. The US has been in negotiations with Egypt and Israel for a few days in an attempt to reach a deal for the temporary reopening of the Rafah border crossing, the only entry point into Gaza that is under Egyptian authority rather than Israeli control.
However, the negotiations broke down on October 16, making it more difficult to evacuate foreign nationals, including Americans who were left behind by the Israeli military's siege, and to provide the Palestinian enclave with critical humanitarian aid. “It is critical that aid begin to flow into Gaza as soon as possible,” Blinken stated while announcing the president's trip after spending more than seven hours with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials.
🚨 BREAKING President Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday, an unprecedented wartime visit for an American president.— Chris D. Jackson (@ChrisDJackson) October 17, 2023
While Donald Trump continues to demean and criticize Israel, Joe Biden is showing solidarity and leadership. What a contrast. 🇺🇸 🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/G4oqyq3bsq
For the White House, the trip would present logistical and security challenges. Blinken, Netanyahu, and other high-ranking officials were compelled to seek cover during a meeting on October 16 after Tel Aviv was attacked by rockets. The trip is fraught with several other diplomatic challenges. Officials from the Biden administration are attempting to deter the Lebanon-based Hezbollah from starting a battle on the northern front.
In addition to being a major factor in Biden's foreign policy considerations, the possibility of a wider conflict—especially with Iran—could harm his reputation at home as he prepares for reelection. According to a CNN poll conducted on Sunday, 47% of Americans thought that Joe Biden would make the appropriate choices about the crisis, while 70% of respondents believed that Israel's response to the Hamas attack was entirely or partially justifiable. Approximately two-thirds of Americans expressed concern that terrorist strikes in the United States might result from the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
US President Joe Biden arrived in Israel on a solidarity visit.— Sprinter (@Sprinter99800) October 17, 2023
The champion of democracy around the world and defender of the rights activists began with his usual question: “Where should I stand?”
Next, Biden plans to visit Jordan and meet with Jordanian King Abdullah II,… pic.twitter.com/v4TrmmUsNk
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