Meet the man tasked with keeping a lid on the Middle East

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WASHINGTON — While Secretary of State Antony Blinken huddled with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday at the Kirya — Israel’s version of the Pentagon — air raid sirens warned citizens in surrounding Tel Aviv neighborhoods to shelter in place.

Blinken, Netanyahu and the Israeli war Cabinet were forced to hide in a bunker for five minutes before moving their meeting to an underground military command center, an indelible reminder of the fragility of life near the front lines.

After nine hours of discussions, some with his Israeli counterparts and some with his U.S. team, Blinken emerged to say that President Joe Biden would visit Israel on Wednesday to demonstrate America’s “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security and that Netanyahu had promised to work to secure humanitarian assistance for Palestinians.

“[T]he United States and Israel have agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza and them alone, including the possibility of creating areas to help keep civilians out of harm’s way,” Blinken said.