US President Joe Biden has started a four-day Middle East tour in Israel where both sides vowed to deepen the Jewish state’s integration in the region as they face their common foe, Iran.
Mr. Biden, whose first international trip as president will also take him to Saudi Arabia, vowed his full support for Israel, which has recently established ties with a number of Arab nations and hopes to do the same with Riyadh.
Following Air Force One‘s arrival late on Wednesday to a red-carpet welcome at Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv, Mr. Biden declared, “We’ll continue to advance Israel’s integration into the region.” “The bond between the people of Israel and the people of the United States runs deep.”
Prior to that, 79-year-old Biden will meet with Palestinian officials enraged by what they see to be Washington’s inability to rein in Israeli aggression and Israeli authorities looking to expand collaboration against Iran.
For Biden, who first visited the region in 1973 after being elected to the Senate, the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic impasse is nothing new.
Jerusalem to Bethlehem
Israel’s military was scheduled to present Biden with its new Iron Beam system, an anti-drone laser it claims is essential for fending off Iran’s fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles, only moments after he had touched down.
Israel maintains that it will take any action required to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and it is adamantly opposed to the restoration of the 2015 agreement, which relieved Tehran of its sanctions.
As Air Force One landed, main highways were closed and Israeli police spread out throughout central Jerusalem on Wednesday.
To greet the US president, who has not overturned former president Donald Trump‘s contentious decision to recognize the city as the Jewish state’s capital, Israel has raised 1,000 flags throughout Jerusalem.
Prior to his visit, Biden was accused by the Palestinians of not delivering on his promise to reinstate the US as an impartial mediator in the issue after Israel occupied east Jerusalem.
According to Jibril Rajoub, a senior of Mahmud Abbas’ secular Fatah movement in Palestine, “We only hear empty words and no outcomes.”
Although there is no anticipation of big moves toward a new peace process, Biden will meet Abbas in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday. As a result, the visit may end up increasing Palestinian resentment.
In advance of the fifth legislative election in less than four years on November 1, Israel is currently once again stuck in political stalemate.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Israeli prime minister who will run for office again in the forthcoming elections, and Biden are slated to meet for a brief period of time on Thursday.
High-level talks in Saudi Arabia
The tour will center on Mr. Biden’s Friday trip to Saudi Arabia after he called the oil-rich nation a “pariah” for killing dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The visit is considered as a component of efforts to re-engage with a long-time significant US strategic ally and major energy supplier in order to stabilize oil markets that have been shaken by the conflict in Ukraine.
In an effort to strengthen ties between the Jewish state and Saudi Arabia, a conservative gulf nation that does not recognize Israel’s existence, Air Force One will undertake its first direct flight from Israel to Saudi Arabia on Friday.