Biden’s support for Israel during his first Middle East tour

Biden’s support for Israel during his first Middle East tour

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday defended “Israeli integration” in the Middle East and reaffirmed the “unwavering” commitment of the United States to this ally country, on his arrival in Tel Aviv for his first tour of the Middle East. region.

“We will continue to advance Israel’s integration into the region,” Biden said, wearing his usual “Top Gun” sunglasses, on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. where Air Force One landed.

Invoking COVID-19 rules, the American president made small “checks” with his fist at Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Yair Lapid who each underlined Mr. Biden’s “support” and “friendship” to their country, while the latter called for “further strengthening” of bilateral ties.

A devout Catholic, Joe Biden called his visit to the Holy Land a “blessing” and stressed that the relationship with Israel “is deeper and stronger than ever”.

Reiterating the “unshakable” commitment of the Americans “to the security of Israel”, he indicated that he was preparing to receive information on Israeli anti-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 because it demonstrates the indissoluble bond between our two countries,” said Mr. Lapid, saying he wanted to discuss with Joe Biden the “need to restore a strong global coalition to stop the nuclear program of the ‘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 governing Iran’s nuclear program, which Donald Trump scuttled in 2018.

With a possible lifting of American sanctions against Iran, Israel fears that an agreement will inflate the aid provided by Tehran to allies like Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas, Israel’s pet peeves.

– The new Middle East? –

Faced with Iran, Israel seeks to form a new “architecture” of the Middle East, that is to say 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 link between the two countries by making an unprecedented direct flight Friday Tel Aviv-Jeddah.

“Biden flying straight to Arabia sums up the dynamics of the last few months…We hope and act so that this is the first step, the beginning, of a process of normalization,” he said. said an Israeli official on 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.

Faced with American efforts, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said that Mr. Biden’s tour “will not bring security” to Israel.

– Abu Akleh family invited –

During Mr. Biden’s visit, the Israeli police have deployed some 16,000 troops and many roads will be closed in the country. Police patrolled downtown Jerusalem.

On King David Street in Jerusalem, where Joe Biden will stay, poles were topped with American flags to mark the first visit by an American 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.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Monday that Washington had reestablished “almost severed diplomatic ties” with the Palestinians.

Despite a request, no meeting is planned with the family of Shireen Abu Akleh, the American-Palestinian journalist shot and killed in May while covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.

The UN and various journalistic investigations maintain that the shooting came from an Israeli soldier, a scenario deemed “likely” by the United States, which however dismissed the hypothesis of a deliberate shooting which upset 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.

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