Biden considering visit to Palestinian hospital in east Jerusalem

The visit would be seen as a US statement opposing Israeli sovereignty in its capital and could weaken Israel’s governing coalition.

 US President Joe Biden is considering a visit to Al Makassed Hospital. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
US President Joe Biden is considering a visit to Al Makassed Hospital.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

US President Joe Biden is considering a visit to Makassed Hospital, the largest Palestinian medical center in Jerusalem, an Israeli official said Monday.

The visit during his trip to Israel next month would be within the framework of a US initiative regarding the hospital.

Biden would visit the hospital unaccompanied by Israeli officials, and that would be viewed as not recognizing Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem and partially rolling back former US president Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the official said.

No previous US presidents have made similar visits. Biden’s plan to visit east Jerusalem was first reported by KAN News.

The Biden administration has sought to strengthen the current Israeli coalition government. But such a visit would signify a divided Jerusalem and likely spark disputes within the coalition.

 US President Joe Biden gestures as he boards Air Force One at Delaware Air National Guard Base, in New Castle, Delaware, US, April 25, 2022. (credit: TASOS KATOPODIS/ REUTERS) US President Joe Biden gestures as he boards Air Force One at Delaware Air National Guard Base, in New Castle, Delaware, US, April 25, 2022. (credit: TASOS KATOPODIS/ REUTERS)

The visit could lead to renewed US funding for the hospital after the Trump administration cut $25 million to the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network, of which Makassed Hospital is a member.

Biden’s consideration of a visit to east Jerusalem comes amid a wave of Palestinian terrorism against Israelis and Hamas incitement over false claims about Israel making changes to the status quo on the Temple Mount.

Biden had promised to reopen the US Consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, but Israel opposes the move, saying it undermines its sovereignty in the capital.

Biden’s trip to Israel has not yet been finalized, but it is expected to be scheduled around the G7, which is on June 26-28.

In response to a query about whether Biden’s visit to Israel would occur on the tail end of his June visit to Europe, White House press secretary Jen Psaki last Wednesday said he was “looking forward to coming, but we haven’t quite locked in the date yet.”

Biden is also expected to meet Jordan’s King Abdullah in Washington this week, Reuters reported.

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.