February 27, 2024

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On trip to the Middle East, Biden reassures Israelis about Iran nuclear talks

On trip to the Middle East, Biden reassures Israelis about Iran nuclear talks

During a four-day trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, President Biden will focus on securing oil for US gas pumps, slowing Iran’s nuclear program and strengthening ties with Saudi Arabia.attributed to himattributed to him…Doug Mills/The New York Times

JERUSALEM – President Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday for the opening Visit the Middle East for four days It will focus on trying to slow Iran’s nuclear program, getting oil to US gas pumps and improving relations with Saudi Arabia.

Nearly 50 years after making his first visit to Israel as a new senator, Biden is back for the first time as president and has wasted no time in seeking to reaffirm his unwavering support for the Jewish state despite disagreement over his efforts to Negotiating a new nuclear agreement with Iran.

“Every opportunity to return to this great country where the roots of the ancient Jewish people go back to biblical times is a blessing, because the connection between the Israeli people and the American people is so deep,” Mr. Biden said during a brief arrival. Ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport. “Generation after generation, this connection is growing.”

Mr. Biden, who has noted as he often does that he has known every Israeli prime minister since Golda Meir, whom he met on his first trip in 1973, made his tenth visit to Israel and seemed intent on dispelling the notion that he was less supportive of the country than his predecessor President Donald J. Trump, whose support for Israel has been a cornerstone of his foreign policy.

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“Our relationship is deeper than ever, in my view,” Mr. Biden said.

Israeli leaders welcomed him as he stepped off Air Force One, echoing the same sentiments, emphasizing that they view Mr. Biden as a friend and take little notice of their differences. President Isaac Herzog called him “Our Brother Joseph,” saying, “You are truly among the family.” The country’s interim prime minister, Yair Lapid, called him “a great Zionist and one of the best friends Israel has ever known.”

Mr. Lapid said, “It’s a very personal visit, because your relationship with Israel has always been very personal. You once identified yourself as a Zionist. You said you don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist. And you were right.”

Mr. Lapid emphasized, without going into it, that the two leaders would discuss Iran and their joint efforts to enhance cooperation among the countries of the Middle East. Once isolated in the region, Israel is increasingly involved in regional diplomacy Notable Diplomatic Deals with Three Arab countries In 2020 – officials hope more progress will be made during Mr. Biden’s visit.

Likewise, Mr. Biden touched on another area of ​​potential tension, reiterating his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after criticism that his administration did not prioritize the issue.

“We will discuss my continued support, although I know not in a new period, for a two-state solution which remains in my view the best way to ensure an equal future of freedom, prosperity, and democracy for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” Biden said.

Before his arrival, the Israeli government made several small steps toward the Palestinians, including granting some new work permits to Gaza residents. But while Mr. Biden will visit Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, to restore contacts severed during Trump’s presidency, there is little expectation that the visit will make progress in resolving the conflict.

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Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, cut a fringe figure at the welcoming ceremony. Now out of office, he is the leader of the opposition and will have only a short meeting with the president on Thursday.

But Biden’s warm, if often fraught, relationship stretches back four decades, and the US leader has been keen to search for Mr. Netanyahu during a group photo of Israeli and US officials. Mr. Biden gave Mr. Netanyahu long, snuggly clips, and the two men gave the impression that they were happy to see each other.

The president’s trip comes at a sensitive moment in Israeli politics. fragile ruling coalition recently collapsedLapid left the position of caretaker prime minister until the November elections, in which Netanyahu hopes to return.

At the end of the reception, Mr. Lapid joked about his and Biden’s course since a previous meeting between the two in Washington.

He told Mr. Biden, “I don’t know if you remember, but eight years ago we met in the White House when I was Vice President. You told me, ‘If my hair were like yours, I would be President,'” and I replied, “If I only had your height, I would I will be prime minister.”