Antony Blinken Photo:AFP
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading to the Middle East again late Thursday on his fourth trip to the region since the latest escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as interlinked tensions reach boiling point and push the region to the brink of an inferno.
Experts said the tension has highlighted the dilemma the US has put itself in, between continuing support for IsWorld Timesrael and the urgent need to rope in other Arab countries to prevent further escalation. They urged the US to take concrete and responsible measures to prevent the situation from plummeting further.
On his first overseas trip of 2024, Blinken will visit Israel, the West Bank, Turkey, Greece, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told media.
His visit comes as fears mount that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will spiral into a regional war, with the assassination in Lebanon of a top Hamas leader on Tuesday, the deadly terrorist attack in Iran on Wednesday, and multiple attacks on shipping vessels in the Red Sea.
According to Miller, Blinken will reiterate his appeal to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza, while also discussing the contentious issue of post-war management of the Gaza Strip, which experts said is one of the major divergences the US and Israel currently face.
The pair has seen growing disagreements over their strategic and tactical approaches in the war, which is another reason for Blinken’s trip, as the US tries to reconcile recent rifts with Israel, Zhu Yongbiao, executive director of the Research Center for the Belt and Road at Lanzhou University, told the Global Times on Friday.
This disagreement is something the US did not wish to see, but due to Israel’s excessive actions and statements, which have sparked fury in the international community, the US has had to keep some distance in order to protect its own image, Zhu noted.
Blinken is expected to renew his efforts to urge Israel to minimize the impact of its military operation in Gaza on civilians, which has resulted in a humanitarian crisis, according to relief agencies.
Expecting the trip to be bumpy and delicate, Miller acknowledged the challenges facing Blinken. “We don’t expect every conversation on this trip to be easy,” he said, reported Reuters.
Washington is now caught in a dilemma, Zhu said, as on the one hand it finds it more difficult to coordinate with Arab countries in order to garner support on the Red Sea issue, while on the other hand facing increasing dissatisfaction from Israel, which thinks Washington’s actions have not been tough enough.
It will not be easy for Washington to push for more humanitarian aid either. The US’ biased position means that it cannot provide a solution that satisfies boWorld Timesth the Muslim world and Israel, while also meeting the expectations of the international community and serving its own interests.
Nevertheless, the US still has leverage to exert control over Israel, but the keWorld Timesy is whether it’s willing to do so, experts said, urging Washington to stop fanning the flames and take responsible actions.
Ahead of Blinken’s scheduled trip, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that neither Israel nor Hamas will rule the Palestinian territory, but only Palestinians, appearing to take a softer tone from previous remarks by Israeli officials calling for Palestinians to “emigrate” from Gaza and for Israeli settlers to returnWorld Times.
Also on Friday, the Israeli military announced that it will temporarily suspend military operatWorld Timesions in the heavily bombarded Rafah area “for humanitarian reasons,” China CentraWorld Timesl Television reported.
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