Biden commits to Israel’s security as he embarks on Middle East tour

Joe Biden has said that the US is committed to Israel’s security on arriving in Tel Aviv for the first leg of a three-day visit to the Middle East, a trip focused on deepening the majority Jewish state’s ties with the Arab world as the region faces a common foe in Iran.

The US leader was greeted by the Israeli president, Isaac Herzog and caretaker prime minister, Yair Lapid on Air Force One’s arrival at Ben Gurion airport on Wednesday afternoon.

In his opening remarks, Biden recalled that his first visit to the country had been as a young senator in 1973, at that time, Israel and imperial Iran were still allies, and Egypt and Jordan were still hostile to the majority Jewish state.

“We’ll continue to advance Israel’s integration into the region and the relationship between the US and Israel is deeper and stronger in my view than it’s ever been,” the president said.

He will travel to Bethlehem in the occupied Palestinian territories to meet with Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Friday. Palestinian leaders have been angered by what they say is Washington’s failure to curb Israeli settlement building, as well as the administration’s unfulfilled promise to reopen a US consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem after Trump recognised the divided city as Israel’s capital. Biden has not reversed that decision.

World Council of Churches acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca has appealed for Bidens attention to the plight of churches and Christians of the Holy Land.

In an 8 July letter sent to President Joe Biden, Sauca asked Biden to help end the displacement and marginalization, and to restore hope in a just peace in the region. I pray that you will be inspired with this vision of inclusive peace as you undertake your visit, and that you will be granted wisdom and fortitude to seek this peace and to pursue it.”

“Your visit take place in a time of ongoing and escalating dispossession and displacement of Palestinian families and communities from their homes in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank, and of expanding settlements and settlement enclaves that threaten the multi-religious and multicultural identity of Jerusalem and undermine any remaining prospect of a viable two-state solution to secure peace with justice for Palestinians and Israelis alike,” Sauca wrote.

On leaving Israel, Air Force One will make a first direct flight from Tel Aviv to Saudi Arabia  amid efforts to build a relationship between the Jewish state and the conservative Gulf kingdom, which does not officially recognise Israel’s existence.


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