US ambassador to UN to make first visit to Israel next week

Linda Thomas-Greenfield will meet with senior Israeli ministers, tour Lebanon and Gaza borders with deputy IDF chief; will also make stops in Ramallah and Amman

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield during a news conference at United Nations headquarters, on March 1, 2021. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield during a news conference at United Nations headquarters, on March 1, 2021. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

United States Ambassador to the United Nation Linda Thomas-Greenfield will visit Israel next week alongside her Israeli counterpart, Gilad Erdan, her office confirmed Thursday.

The trip will be Thomas-Greenfield’s first to Israel. She is set to meet with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, President Isaac Herzog, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Thomas-Greenfield will be the first White House cabinet official to visit Israel since the formation of its new government in June, in a trip that will “reinforce the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and discuss continued US-Israel cooperation at the UN and a full range of regional issues,” her office said in a statement.

During her trip, Thomas-Greenfield is expected to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem and be given a tour of the Lebanon and Gaza borders by Israel Defense Forces Deputy Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi.

The UN envoy is set to be accompanied by Erdan throughout her stay in Israel.

She will also visit Ramallah where she will “continue the Administration’s efforts to build ties with the Palestinian people,” her office said, adding that she will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, his senior aides and members of Palestinian civil society.

“In Jerusalem and Ramallah, she will discuss practical steps to advance freedom, security, and prosperity for all and to preserve the viability of a two-state solution,” according to the statement.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) meets with US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield in New York, on September 27, 2021. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)UN

Thomas-Greenfield will wrap up the Mideast tour in Amman, Jordan, where she will “reaffirm the United States commitment to the enduring and strategic partnership between the two countries,” the US readout said.

The envoy “will also convey the United States appreciation for Jordan’s generosity in hosting refugees from neighboring countries” and engage with refugees to learn firsthand how US aid is addressing humanitarian needs in the country.

Since her confirmation as US President Joe Biden’s ambassador earlier this year, Thomas-Greenfield has consistently defended Israel at the UN and criticized the Security Council for its disproportionate focus on Israel.

“This council spends a great deal of time on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is both understandable and consistent with the agenda. But far too often, the substance of these discussions is centered almost entirely around criticism of Israel and counterattacks,” she has said.

“I sincerely hope that going forward, council members will do their best to take a more balanced approach. Also, there are other countries and situations in the region that merit Security Council attention and should not be neglected.”

This stance is one that has long been held by successive American administrations, but was intensified during former US president Donald Trump’s time in office, when his ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, used the platform to regularly admonish members and accuse them of anti-Israel bias.

Haley similarly made a trip to Israel that included tours of the Lebanon and Gaza borders during her first year as ambassador.

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