CIA director Bill Burns has arrived in Tel Aviv for visits to Israel and the West Bank. He is expected to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as his counterparts on both sides.
Burns’ visit was pre-planned, but takes place amidst a significant escalation of tensions between Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The visit and Burns’ meetings will likely be impacted by events on the ground.
Tensions in the region intensified after the Israeli military killed nine Palestinians during a raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority suspended its security coordination with Israel, raising concerns that the situation in the West Bank could escalate further.
Overnight, the Islamic Jihad in Gaza fired several rockets towards Israel, which were intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome defense system. The Israeli air force retaliated with an air strike in Gaza.
The CIA has a close relationship with the Palestinian intelligence service and plays a key role in supporting the security and intelligence coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Burns’ visit is part of a wider trip to the Middle East, with Secretary of State Tony Blinken expected to travel to the region this weekend. The Biden administration has expressed concern about the cycle of violence in the West Bank and called for all parties to de-escalate.
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