The White House announced Sunday that David Satterfield, a former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon and Turkey, will now serve as the U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues.
In that role, the State Department said Satterfield will “focus on ensuring life-saving assistance can reach vulnerable people throughout the Middle East,” according to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
“Ambassador Satterfield’s diplomatic experience and decades of work navigating the some of the world’s most challenging conflicts will be instrumental in our continued effort to address humanitarian issues in the region – a top priority for President Biden – including our efforts to bring urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza, in coordination with the U.N., Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and other regional stakeholders,” Sullivan said in a statement released by the White House.
“We thank Ambassador Satterfield for his willingness to serve in this new capacity,” he added.
Satterfield was expected to arrive in Israel on Monday, according to the Associated Press.
After visiting Israel last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken went to six countries – Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and ultimately Egypt, where he met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo on Sunday.
Addressing reporters before departing Egypt Sunday, Blinken reaffirmed that “the United States has Israel’s back,” but also stressed that he heard from partners a “shared view” that “we have to do everything possible to make sure this doesn’t spread to other places,” “to safeguard innocent lives,” and “to get assistance to Palestinians in Gaza who need it.”
“We believe that civilians should not suffer because of the depravity of Hamas. And among other things, that means that they should have food, water, medicine, all the basic essentials that they need,” Blinken said. “Today, water was turned back on for Gaza. We engaged with Israel to make that happen. We’re now focused on making sure that humanitarian assistance can get in, that people can get out of harm’s way within Gaza, and also that some of our own citizens who wish to leave can get out. But this has been very much a part not only of our conversations, but of the actions we’re taking.
“In fact, today President Biden appointed one of our most experienced diplomats, David Satterfield, who has deep experience in this region, to lead our humanitarian assistance efforts – special envoy of the President to work with everyone in the region to make sure that Palestinians in harm’s way in Gaza get the assistance they need,” Blinken added.
President Biden is considering a trip to Israel in the coming days but no travel has been finalized, a senior administration official told the AP on Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.