/ 18 October 2023

President incoming: Biden heads to Israel

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The Squiz 

US President Joe Biden is set to arrive in Israel’s Tel Aviv today following an invitation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The pair have known each other for 4 decades, and Biden’s visit is seen as critical to preventing the crisis in the Middle East from widening. Commentators have pointed out that the trip presents a security risk for the president, given his host is at war with its neighbour, but arrangements have been hashed out between Israeli officials and America’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is back for a second visit in a week. 

What’s Biden doing there?

It’s a short agenda of 2 action items, but they are massive and complex… First, Biden’s presence in Israel during an active war is unprecedented and a huge show of support for the nation. The trip is also a deterrent to others – like Iran and Hezbollah – who might want to spread the conflict. Analysts say the US’s emphatic support will make others think twice about taking up arms against Israel… And second, the American contingent is working to ensure humanitarian assistance can reach Gazans… which will be particularly necessary after reports that Israel bombed a hospital in Gaza, killing hundreds of people. Biden plans to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who declared 3 days of mourning over the hospital deaths. While he’s in the region, Biden will also meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi; he’s a critical player because Egypt’s border with Gaza is still blocked up, making it hard to get aid in and foreign civilians out…

Are any Aussies still stuck in Gaza?

At least 45 of them, according to Deputy PM Richard Marles. Yesterday, Marles said that the Aussies have been making themselves known to the Department of Foreign Affairs and that the number includes children. At least some of the group have joined other foreign nationals at that border with Egypt near the city of Rafah. Fortunate enough to get out of Israel are hundreds of Aussies who touched down in Sydney last night on a Qatar Airways repatriation flight, ahead of a Qantas flight that also left from Tel Aviv. Reports say that Emirates and Virgin are also helping to get Aussies back home.

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