Joe Biden to visit the Middle East for the first time as US president

JERUSALEM (Parliament Politics Magazine) – With Israel as his first stop, Joe Biden is travelling to the Middle East for the first time as president of the United States.

At a welcome ceremony on Wednesday, Biden is scheduled to make a few brief statements before hearing from Israeli defence officials about the Iron Dome system, which the US supports, and Iron Beam, a new laser-enabled system.

Additionally, he will pay his condolences at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial for World War II victims. 

Prior to meeting with the President Mahumoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority (PA) in the occupied West Bank on Friday, the US leader will spend two days in Jerusalem holding discussions with leaders of Israel, including Yair Lapid, interim Prime Minister and Benjamin Netanyahu, former Prime Minister.

Since the country does not recognise Israel’s existence, President Biden will next take an unusual direct route from Israel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he will meet with Saudi leaders and attend a conference of Gulf allies.

In order to welcome the US president, who has not overturned former President Donald Trump’s disputed decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital, Israel, which is embroiled in a political stalemate ahead of a November 1 election, says it would raise 1,000 flags throughout Jerusalem.

Before his visit, Biden was accused by Palestinians of failing to fulfil his promise to reinstate the US as an impartial mediator in the dispute since they consider occupied East Jerusalem to be their capital.

Jibril Rajoub, the head of Abbas’s Fatah movement, claimed that all they were hearing were empty words with no action.

There are no anticipated major moves towards a new peace process, so Biden’s meeting with Abbas in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday could only increase Palestinian frustration.

Palestinian political and civil society leader Khalida Jarrar said to Al Jazeera that the PA was still placing its bets on Americans and the fantasy that the Americans will do something for the Palestinians as a result of Biden’s visit.

The gap between the Palestinian people’s aspirations and their leadership’s actions would be greatly widened because of this, he stated.

The meetings will be the greatest level of face-to-face communication between US and Palestinian leaders since Trump started his administration in 2017 and began to implement several pro-Israeli policies.

The murder of Palestinian American Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in May has further strained relations between the US and Palestinians recently. While covering Israeli incursions in Jenin, the veteran reporter was shot by Israeli forces.

According to the United Nations, Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli fire, which a Washington assessment determined to be likely but added that there was no proof the killing was deliberate.

The Biden administration’s “abject response” to Abu Akleh’s murder has sparked “outrage” from her family, who also claim that the US is shielding Israel from consequences. The White House has not responded to their request to meet Biden when he is visiting.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on board Air Force One that Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had spoken with Abu Akleh’s relatives. He has invited the family to visit the United States so that he can have a face-to-face conversation with them, Sullivan stated.

He stated that the White House wanted a US consulate for Palestinians to open in occupied East Jerusalem. Clearly, that necessitates interaction with the government of Israel. Engagement with the Palestinian leadership was also necessary. And on this trip, they would keep up their engagement, he added.