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Biden lands in Israel for high-stakes trip amid war with Hamas

Biden lands in Israel for high-stakes trip amid war with Hamas

President Joe Biden landed in Tel Aviv on Wednesday for a brief but crucial trip meant to demonstrate U.S. solidarity with Israel ahead of an expected ground assault against Hamas and concerns about humanitarian aid in Gaza.

Biden is scheduled to remain in Tel Aviv for his visit, which will include a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

Biden plans to deliver public remarks, Kirby said, and he’ll also meet with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, as well as first responders, families who lost loved ones in the attack and families whose relatives Hamas may be holding hostage in Gaza.

Netanyahu extended the invitation to Biden after Hamas’ terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7, which killed 1,400 people.

On his way back to the U.S. on Wednesday, Biden is expected to speak with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in discussions likely to focus on a path forward in Gaza as Israeli military leaders consider next steps and Palestinian civilians call for humanitarian aid.

Biden initially planned to meet with Arab leaders at a summit hosted by Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman, but the event was canceled following an explosion at a Christian-run medical complex in central Gaza City that is estimated to have killed hundreds. Israeli and Palestinian authorities blamed each other for the fatal blast.

Follow live coverage from NBC News here.

NBC News reported Tuesday that Biden’s team earlier in the week was considering the idea of his visiting Israel. One of the conditions was that the visit needed to take place before Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza, according to multiple current and former administration officials.

It is the second time during Biden’s presidency that he has visited a war zone. In February, he traveled to Ukraine in a trip that was kept quiet until he arrived.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been engaging in shuttle diplomacy across the Middle East over the past week, meeting with Arab leaders from multiple countries. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also made a quick trip to Israel.

While Biden is on the ground, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, his pick to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.

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