Blinken to visit Israel, West Bank, Morocco and Algeria
Secretary of State Tony Blinken is expected to travel to the Middle East next week after he joins President Biden’s trip to Brussels and Poland, four U.S. and Israeli officials tell me.
Why it matters: Blinken is set to arrive at a time when U.S. relations with many of its partners and allies in the region are tense. His original itinerary included stops in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but as the dates of the trip shifted back and forth several times, those visits were dropped.
- Blinken wants to use the visit to show U.S. engagement in the region is continuing, the U.S. officials say.
Driving the news: Blinken is expected to arrive in Israel on Saturday evening and have meetings with Israeli officials in Jerusalem and Palestinian officials in Ramallah.
- King Abdullah of Jordan is expected to visit Ramallah on Sunday to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. It's unclear if he will meet Blinken, who is expected to be in Ramallah on the same day.
- Blinken will travel on Monday from Israel to Morocco and from there to Algeria, according to the four officials.
Between the lines: Palestinian leaders are frustrated that the Biden administration has not followed through on promises to them, in particular reopening the consulate in Jerusalem, which served as the U.S. diplomatic mission to the Palestinian Authority.
- In recent months, there have been growing tensions between Algeria and Morocco over the conflict in disputed Western Sahara.
State of play: Blinken will arrive in Israel and the Palestinian Authority ahead of an unusual situation that happens once every 10 years, when Passover, Ramadan and Easter take place at the same time — heightening the potential for violence in Jerusalem.
- The West Bank and Gaza have been relatively calm in recent weeks, but in East Jerusalem, there have been several stabbing attacks on Israelis. In two recent cases, Israeli police shot the Palestinians they said committed the attacks.
- The latest: On Tuesday, an Arab Israeli with a previous conviction for supporting ISIS murdered four people in Beersheba in southern Israel.