US President Joe Biden makes his first visit to Israel, where he meets Prime Minister Yair Lapid .
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday defended “Israel's integration” into the Middle East and reaffirmed the US's “unwavering” commitment to the ally country upon his arrival in Tel Aviv for his first tour of the region.
We will continue to advance Israel's integration in the region, Biden said, wearing his usual glasses Top Gun style sunglasses on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, where Air Force One landed.
Invoking rules related to COVID-19, the US president greeted Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Yair Lapid with a wave of his fist, and the two highlighted Mr's support and friendship. Biden to their country, as the latter called for further strengthening bilateral ties.
Natural yet demonstrative, Joe Biden nevertheless decided to minimize contact during his trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, citing COVID-19. Journalists sought to find out more. Are these really health precautions? Isn't the goal to avoid an awkward handshake, in this case with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Saudi Arabia where he is traveling on Friday?
The Crown Prince is accused by American intelligence of having supervised the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. This future meeting has already caused a lot of ink to flow and experts agree to say that the White House will do everything to avoid an image and gestures that are too close.
A devout Catholic, Joe Biden described his visit to the Holy Land as a blessing and underlined that the relationship with Israel is deeper and stronger than ever.
Reiterating Americans' unwavering commitment to Israel's security, he said he was preparing to receive briefings on Israeli missile defense capabilities, including the Iron Dome system, but also a new laser response device against drones, the Iron Beam.
This is a historic visit, as it testifies to the indissoluble link between our two country, Mr. Lapid said, saying he wanted to discuss with Joe Biden the need to restore a strong global coalition to stop the nuclear program of Iran, an enemy of Israel and the United States.
Israel is trying to prevent Western powers, including the United States, from reviving a 2015 international pact framing Iran's nuclear program, which Donald Trump scuttled in 2018.
With a possible lifting of US sanctions against Iran, Israel fears that a deal could inflate the aid provided by Tehran to allies like the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas, pet peeves of Israel.
Facing Iran, Israel seeks to form a new architecture of the Middle East, that is, to form a common front with countries in the region deemed hostile to the Islamic Republic.
Under the leadership of the Trump administration, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalized relations with Israel in 2020.
The Israeli government hopes that Mr. Biden's tour, which is also to take him to Saudi Arabia, would give impetus to a hypothetical normalization with the Saudi kingdom.
Especially since the American president will draw a symbolic hyphen between the two countries by carrying out an unprecedented direct flight Tel-Aviv-Jeddah on Friday.
The fact that Biden flies directly to Arabia sums up the dynamics of the last few months […]. We hope and act so that these are the first steps, the beginning, of a process of normalization, an Israeli official said Tuesday.
The Biden administration would also like, and perhaps in the first place, to get the oil kingdom to open the floodgates to calm the surge in crude prices.
In the face of US efforts, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has asserted that Biden's tour will not bring security to Israel.
During Mr. Biden's visit, the Israeli police have deployed some 16,000 troops and many roads will be closed in the country. The police have crisscrossed downtown Jerusalem.
On King David Street in Jerusalem, where Joe Biden will stay, the poles have been capped with American flags to mark this first visit of & #x27;a US head of state since Republican Donald Trump in 2017.
Much to the chagrin of Palestinians, the Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the US Embassy there, a move Democrat Joe Biden did not reverse. .
The question of Jerusalem is one of the main stumbling blocks in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process suspended since 2014.
United States National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan assured Monday that Washington had restored diplomatic ties with the Palestinians which had been virtually severed.
Despite a request, no meeting is scheduled with the family of Shireen Abu Akleh, the American-Palestinian journalist who was shot and killed in May while covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
The UN and various journalistic investigations maintain that the shot came from an Israeli soldier, a scenario deemed likely by the United States, which has however dismissed the hypothesis of & #x27;a deliberate shooting which has embittered the Abu Akleh family.
US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken has invited the Abu Akleh family to the United States for a meeting with him . We are studying the invitation, Lina Abu Akleh, the journalist's niece, told AFP.
Lina Abu Akleh, journalist's niece shot dead in May, presumably by the Israeli army