Oct 15, 2023 - World

U.S. and Israeli officials discuss possible Biden visit to Israel this week

President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands in New York.

President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands in New York in September.

Israel and the U.S. are discussing a possible visit by President Biden to Israel later this week, three Israeli and U.S. officials confirmed on Sunday.

Why it matters: A Biden visit would be both a show of support for Israel amid the war with Hamas and a message to Iran and Hezbollah not to join the fighting.

Behind the scenes: The Israeli officials said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Biden to Israel during their phone call on Saturday.

  • Israeli Channel 12 first reported the invitation.
  • A U.S. official said a possible visit to the region is being considered, but no decision has been made.
  • The Israeli Prime Minister's Office declined to comment.
  • White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson told Axios: "We have no new travel to announce."

Driving the news: Biden has offered unwavering support to Israel following Hamas' attack on Oct. 7.

  • Biden and his administration have also in recent days expressed concern over the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza amid Israel's heavy bombardment and "complete siege" of the enclave.
  • Israel on Sunday resumed supplying water to southern Gaza after pressure by the Biden administration.

The big picture: An Egyptian official told Axios that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is organizing an international conference about the war in Gaza for later this week and Biden has been invited to participate.

  • Sisi earlier Sunday told Secretary of State Tony Blinken that Israel's response to the Hamas attack has gone from self-defense to collective punishment, the Egyptian presidency said in a statement.
  • Sisi also told Blinken that the lack of any political horizon for the Palestinians led to "an explosion of anger." He said the current crisis is very dangerous and could have consequences on the entire region.

What to watch: Blinken is expected to return back to Israel on Monday — his second visit since the war began.

  • Israel is preparing for an expected ground offensive in Gaza.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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