After Biden labelled Saudi Arabia a “pariah” for the 2018 death of dissident Saudi writer and US resident Jamal Khashoggi, the 79-year-old president’s visit to Jeddah on Friday will be the focus of the trip.
When Air Force One lands in Tel Aviv at 1230 GMT, it will be the first time a plane has flown directly from the US to a conservative Gulf nation that doesn’t recognise Israel’s existence.
Before then, President Biden will meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials who are irritated by what they regard as Washington’s inability to rein in Israeli aggressiveness, as well as Israeli leaders who are wanting to expand their collaboration against Iran.
Biden’s first trip to the Middle East was in 1973, when he was elected to the Senate, and he’s been there ever since.
It used to be that Iran and Israel were close partners, but now the Israelis see Tehran as their greatest danger.
Talks “will concentrate first and mainly on the subject of Iran,” Yair Lapid, Israel’s interim prime minister, has declared.
Following his arrival, Israel’s military will demonstrate its new Iron Beam anti-drone laser technology to Biden. Israel believes this system will be key for thwarting Iran’s UAV fleet.
Since the 2015 agreement that lifted sanctions on Iran, Israel has maintained that it would do everything it takes to stop the country from developing nuclear weapons.
Israeli officials said they would raise a thousand flags in Jerusalem to greet US President Donald Trump, who has not reversed his contentious decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as of yet.
Prior to his visit, Palestinians accused Biden of failing to fulfil his vow to reinstate the United States as an honest mediator in the issue over Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
“We just hear hollow promises and no achievements,” said Jibril Rajoub, a secular Fatah movement leader under Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
On Friday, President Joe Biden will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, but there is little prospect of a major breakthrough in the peace process.
Israel is similarly caught in a political stalemate ahead of the November 1 elections, the sixth in less than four years.
Shireen Abu Akleh, a famous Al Jazeera journalist, was killed in May while reporting on an Israeli army operation in the occupied West Bank. This has damaged US-Palestinian relations.
Despite Washington’s assessment that Israel’s use of lethal force was “probable,” the UN found no proof that the Palestinian-American victim’s death was premeditated.
Biden administration’s “abject reaction” to Abu Akleh’s murder has outraged her family, and the White House has not reacted on their request for a meeting with President Obama.
Reconnecting with a long-time strategic ally and significant oil supplier, Saudi Arabia, is regarded as a way to stabilise oil markets that have been shaken by the conflict in Ukraine.
Nonetheless, Israel expects that the visit will also mark the beginning of diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
To follow up on its 1994 and 1979 peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt, Israel increased its regional footprint in 2020 with the support of the United States.
A senior Israeli official said Tuesday that Biden’s visit constituted a significant milestone, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has no imminent plans to recognise the Jewish state.