(photo credit: AP)
US Vice President Joe Biden, expected to arrive this afternoon, is scheduled to meet with Israel’s most senior leadership during his three-day visit, with the glaring exception of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Biden will meet President Shimon Peres, twice with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, take a helicopter ride with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, be greeted at the airport by Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon and sit down with opposition leader Tzipi Livni.
A spokesman for Lieberman said the two will not meet during the visit because a meeting between them has already been scheduled for April in Washington, during a planned Lieberman visit to the US. There was no reason to plan two meetings so close together, the spokesman said.
No comment was immediately available from the US embassy.
Upon arriving, Biden, who has been to Israel as a senator innumerable times, is scheduled to drive directly to his hotel, the David Citadel in Jerusalem
On Tuesday he starts the day with a meeting with Peres, followed by a meeting with Netanyahu and his staff. Netanyahu will be accompanied by Ambassador to the US Michael Oren, National Security Council head Uzi Arad, the PM’s military advisor Maj.-Gen. Yohanan Locker, senior adviser Ron Dermer, envoy on Palestinian issues Yitzhak Molcho and spokesman Nir Hefetz.
Biden will be accompanied by US Ambassador James Cunningham, National Security Adviser Tony Blinken, Special Advisor for the Middle East Herro Mustafa, Maura Connelly from the State Department’s Middle East Bureau, special presidential assistant Dennis Ross and senior director for North Africa and the Middle East in the National Security Council Daniel Shapiro.
After the wider meeting, Netanyahu and Biden, who have known each other for some 30 years, are expected to have a private discussion.
Biden will then meet Livni before going to Mount Herzl to lay a wreath at the graves of Theodor Herzl and Yitzhak Rabin. Following that he will go to Yad Vashem.
In the evening he will have dinner with Netanyahu.
On Wednesday, after meeting Quartet envoy Tony Blair and holding a
meeting with US embassy and consulate staff, Biden is scheduled to
travel to Ramallah and Bethlehem for meetings with the PA leadership.
On Thursday he is scheduled to deliver a diplomatic address at Tel Aviv University, and leave Israel in the afternoon.