In Jordan, president will sit with Abdullah, Sissi, Abbas

Biden to make wartime solidarity visit to Israel on Wednesday

Blinken: President will back Israel’s obligation to tackle Hamas; Israel to develop plan with US for humanitarian aid for Gazans; White House: No conditions on Israel military aid

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

US President Joe Biden waves as he walks towards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
US President Joe Biden waves as he walks towards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

US President Joe Biden will make a wartime visit to Israel on Wednesday, in the latest demonstration of Washington’s overwhelming support for Jerusalem following the October 7 Hamas onslaught.

He will be building off of a passionate speech last week in which he expressed his horror over the brutal Hamas assault, winning over Israelis across the political spectrum.

“He’s coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region and for the world,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a brief statement to the press at the US embassy’s Tel Aviv branch office, after concluding an eight-hour meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet at the IDF’s Kirya military headquarters nearby.

Biden is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog and some of the families of the hostages and the missing.

The president will be in Israel for several hours, after which he will fly to Jordan for more meetings.

In Jordan, Biden will participate in a four-way summit hosted by King Abdullah, also including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. “He will reiterate that Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination and discuss the humanitarian needs of civilians in Gaza,” the White House said.

Blinken said Biden will use the trip to Israel to reaffirm US “solidarity with Israel” along with Washington’s commitment to the Jewish state’s security. The president will reiterate his condemnation of the Hamas assault, which killed some 1,300 people, Blinken continued, updating the number of Americans killed in the attacks to 30.

Biden will declare that Israel has an “obligation” to defend itself and act to prevent future attacks, Blinken said, indicating that Jerusalem has a significant degree of freedom to operate, as far as the US is concerned.

The US president will use the trip to hear from Israel what military assistance it needs to hit back against Hamas, according to Blinken. White House National Security Council chairman John Kirby later told reporters during a phone briefing that the US is not putting “any conditions” on the military systems that it’s providing to Israel for the Gaza war.

On the trip, Biden will re-issue his warning against state and non-state actors joining Hamas in the fighting, Blinken said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks in Tel Aviv, Tuesday Oct. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

The president will discuss efforts to secure the immediate release of the 200 to 250 hostages being held by terror groups in Gaza. The US, which has several citizens thought kidnapped, is coordinating with Israel as it seeks their freedom.

He will also hear from Israel about how it plans to conduct its military operations in Gaza in a way that minimizes civilian casualties, Blinken said.

The secretary announced that the US and Israel have agreed to develop a plan to enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza.

Blinken said the plan pushed by the US will include “the possibility of creating areas to help keep civilians out of harm’s way.”

“It is critical that aid begin flowing into Gaza as soon as possible,” Blinken said.

During Blinken’s meeting with Netanyahu, he reportedly urged Israel to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza in order to maintain international support for the IDF’s military operation aimed at dismantling Hamas.

“The Biden administration understands the need to dismantle Hamas and stresses that one of the ways to make sure there is enough time to do it is by avoiding a humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” a senior Israeli official told the Axios news site.

Israel has largely held off on allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza, as it seeks to pressure Hamas to release hostages.

Blinken acknowledged that Hamas may try and seize or destroy such aid once it enters Gaza but insisted that the US will condemn such actions if they happen and work to prevent them.

He thanked Israel for agreeing to the plan and said Biden looks forward to discussing it further when he arrives in Israel on Wednesday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant arrive to make brief statements to the media at the IDF’s Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv on Oct. 16, 2023, in Tel Aviv. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

Biden’s meetings will take place in Tel Aviv, after which he will travel to Amman for separate meetings with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Kirby said.

In those meetings, Biden “will reiterate that Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination and discuss the humanitarian needs of civilians in Gaza,” the White House added in a statement.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the US helped defeat a Russian-backed Security Council resolution that called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza war.

In her speech explaining the decision to vote against the resolution, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield blasted Russia for failing to even mention Hamas in the document.

“By failing to condemn Hamas, Russia is giving cover to a terrorist group that brutalizes innocent civilians. It is outrageous, it is hypocritical, and it is indefensible,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

“We agree that this council should take action, but we have to get it right. And we’ll work intensively with all members on the council to do so,” the US ambassador said. “Hamas set the humanitarian crisis in Gaza in motion, and we cannot allow this council to unfairly shift the blame to Israel and excuse Hamas for its decades of cruelty. Period.”

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during a meeting of the Security Council at UN headquarters, November 21, 2022. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Earlier Monday, a US official and an Israeli official told The Times of Israel that the Biden administration has privately been pressing Israel in recent days to flesh out its strategy for the day after it completes its stated Gaza war goal of toppling Hamas.

Netanyahu and his inner circle have indicated to their American counterparts that Israel has not yet come up with such a strategy and is more focused on the immediate goal of removing Hamas from power in Gaza, the US official said.

But the US official speaking with The Times of Israel cautioned against this approach, saying that absent a strategy for who will control the Strip, if or when Hamas is removed, the IDF is more likely to get bogged down in Gaza indefinitely, despite Israel insisting that it does not want to retake the enclave, which it withdrew from unilaterally in 2005.

Palestinian civil defense and medical teams search the rubble after an Israeli airstrike on the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, October 16, 2023. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

An Israeli official told The Times of Israel that National Unity party chair Benny Gantz and fellow party member Gadi Eisenkot demanded the creation of a Gaza exit strategy upon their entry into the government last week and that the pair have tasked a committee with drawing one up.

War erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw at least 1,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,300 people and seizing 200-250 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — men, women, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists, in what Biden has highlighted as “the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.