Rome (CNN)US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Rome on Sunday, the first meeting between a Biden Cabinet official and Israeli leadership since the new Israeli government came into office earlier this month.
The meeting also comes as the Biden administration’s indirect talks with Tehran to salvage the Iran nuclear deal — which Israel continues to staunchly oppose — are set to enter a 7th round after the Iranian presidential election last week.Earlier this month, Blinken and Lapid discussed the importance of the bilateral relationship, the need to improve the Israeli-Palestinian relationship “in practical ways,” and working together on regional security issues such as Iran, according to a State Department readout of the phone call.President Joe Biden and his national security team were involved in a behind-the-scenes diplomatic effort with the Israelis, the Palestinians and other countries in the region earlier this year that resulted in a ceasefire to end a 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas.But those talks were with the government of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — before Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took office. Blinken’s meeting with Lapid will officially launch the relationship between the Biden and Bennett governments.Read MoreLapid will be someone with whom the Biden administration will grow quite familiar in the coming years. While Lapid is currently serving as foreign minister, he will take the reins from Bennett to serve as prime minister in two years, as part of the coalition government agreement.The Biden administration has not committed to any near-term effort to launch peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, with the focus in the aftermath of the recent Israeli-Hamas crisis focused on getting humanitarian assistance to the region.The Biden administration has taken steps to nurture the US diplomatic relationship with the Palestinians after it was cut under then-President Donald Trump, who nurtured a deep relationship with Netanyahu and brokered normalization agreements between Israel and Gulf Arab nations. Biden officials have revived the Palestinian relationship and, in addition to reinstating millions in US funding for the Palestinians, are planning to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem, which Trump had closed.Yet as the Biden administration delves into engagements with both the Palestinians and the Israelis, the prospect for peace in the region remains incredibly low.After the recent violence in Gaza, Blinken said that “there has to be” a prospect for movement toward a genuine political solution.”I think both sides are reminded that we have to find a way to break the cycle, because if we don’t, it will repeat itself at great cost and at great human suffering on all sides,” the secretary of state said in May. “As the President said, I think it’s incumbent upon all of us to try to make the turn to start to build something more positive.”Blinken, who said the short-term focus is on the humanitarian crisis in the region, did not detail future efforts by the Biden administration to kick start a peace process. And other senior Biden administration officials have said that they do not want to lay down “unachievable objectives” and “waste time” pursing those goals.