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White House Making Biggest In-Person Push Yet on Mideast

Secretary of State Blinken is heading to the region
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 24, 2021 8:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading to the Middle East to press the Israelis, Palestinians, and regional players to build on last week’s Gaza ceasefire by laying the groundwork for an eventual resumption in long-stalled peace talks, per the AP. President Biden announced Blinken would depart on Monday for a short visit to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, and Egypt for what will be the Biden administration’s highest-level in-person meetings on the crisis that erupted earlier this month. In a statement, Biden said Blinken will also work with regional partners to ensure “the coordinated international effort to ensure immediate assistance reaches Gaza.”

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The administration had been roundly criticized for its perceived hands-off initial response to the deadly violence, including from Democratic allies in Congress who were demanding it take a tougher line on Israel and its response to rocket attacks from Palestinian militant groups in Gaza. The administration has defended its response by saying it engaged in intense, but quiet, high-level diplomacy to support a cease-fire, which was ultimately arranged last week after Egyptian mediation. Blinken said Sunday that the behind-the-scenes effort led by Biden paid off, securing a truce after 11 days. "We got to where everyone wanted to be, which was to end the violence,” he said. Axios has a look at the Biden diplomacy, which included six calls with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu.

(Read more Antony Blinken stories.)

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