Biden lands in occupied Palestine, kicking off West Asia tour
US President Joe Biden kicks off his trip to West Asia with the first leg in occupied Palestine, where he will meet with Israeli officials before heading to Saudi Arabia for talks with MBS.
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday arrived in occupied Palestine on the first leg of his tour over West Asia as he seeks to appease Washington's allies in the region in light of the rising tensions with Russia and as his country grapples with an energy crisis.
The tour will see the US leader try and mend ties with Saudi Arabia to persuade Riyadh and other Gulf allies to pump out more oil in the markets as the Biden administration faces mounting criticism over the soaring oil prices.
Biden, boarding Air Force One, landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Al-Lydd, occupied Palestine, and bumped fists with Israeli occupation Prime Minister Yair Lapid. In a speech he delivered upon his arrival, Biden said the US connection with the Israeli occupation was "bone-deep".
"You do not need to be a Jew to be a Zionist," Biden stressed while restating his support for a "two-state solution", which he claimed would be "the best hope for Israel and the Palestinians."
During his speech, Biden made no mention of Iran despite the escalating tensions between Tehran and "Tel Aviv" and Washington's disagreements with the Islamic Republic over the nuclear agreement.
"Your relationship with Israel has always been personal," Lapid told Biden during a speech, calling the leader "a great Zionist and one of the best friends Israel has ever known."
The US president will spend two days in occupied Al-Quds for talks with Israeli officials and then take to the occupied West Bank to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday. He will then pack his bags and head to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The trip to Saudi will mark the first of its kind made by a US President. Biden will hold talks with Saudi officials and then attend a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit.
"We're making steps gradually toward that end," said an Israeli official, adding that the fact Biden will fly directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia "encapsulates a lot of the dynamics that have been evolving over the last months," perhaps in reference to a looming normalization agreement between Riyadh and the Israeli occupation.
Riyadh and "Tel Aviv" normalizing ties is "inevitable," former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Joseph Westphal said Monday, urging US President Joe Biden to mend ties with the kingdom during his trip to the Gulf state.
The Biden administration has been cooperating closer and closer with Saudi Arabia in recent months, especially on the Saudi-led war on Yemen, as Washington pushed Riyadh to extend an armistice with Sanaa. Biden also went as far as praising the role of Saudi officials in the armistice, saying that the country "demonstrated courageous leadership" just because it decided to stop dropping bombs on Yemeni civilians - as it has been doing for nearly a decade.
Israeli officials have revealed that the visit will also include what they called the "Jerusalem Declaration" on the US-"Israel" Strategic Partnership.
The joint declaration in question "takes a very clear and united stand against Iran, its nuclear program and its aggression across the region and commits both countries to use all elements of their national power against the Iranian nuclear threat."
Biden is likely to face questions from the Israeli occupation and Gulf states, namely Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates about the wisdom of Washington's attempts to revive the Iran nuclear deal.
Major powers and Iran are holding talks with the aim of reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement and returning the United States to it following Washington's unilateral withdrawal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, who accompanied his decision with the imposition of harsh sanctions on Tehran.