US President Joe Biden’s reported visit to Israel, planned for later this month, has been postponed to July, NBC reported on Saturday.
Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia was also postponed until next month as Washington plans a more comprehensive Middle East trip, including a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Riyadh.
“We are working on a trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia for a GCC+3 Summit.”
“We are working on a trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia for a GCC+3 Summit”Biden administration official to NBC
Biden’s first Jerusalem trip as president was put into doubt by political uncertainty in the Knesset, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition continually fighting for its life.
The US president is highly unlikely to come if the opposition succeeds in dissolving the Knesset and forcing early elections. American presidents have traditionally stayed away from Israel when the country is in an election period.
The Jerusalem Post reported in May that Biden was considering a visit to the Palestinian Makassed Hospital in east Jerusalem during his stay in Israel, a move seen as a deliberate challenge to Israeli sovereignty over that area of the capital.
Israeli officials were told of the postponement on Friday, according to Walla, citing a senior official. According to the report, Washington moved to delay the trip due to both scheduling constraints and the feeling that content relating to issues that will be discussed during the visit are “not ready.”
Speculation is also focusing on a potential normalization accord between Jerusalem and Riyadh, negotiated by the US.
Biden, MBS could meet one-on-one
American news outlets are reporting that the White House is pushing for a first-ever one-on-one meeting between Biden and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto leader.
Saudi-US ties have deteriorated considerably since Biden succeeded former President Donald Trump due to disappointment over Washington’s policies on Iran’s nuclear program and the Houthi presence in Yemen, as well as Biden’s comments during his presidential campaign promising to treat Saudi Arabia as a “pariah state.”
Human rights should be at the core of our engagement with the world – not the periphery. As president, Joe Biden will hold accountable Saudi Arabia, China, and every nation that violates the human rights of their citizens. #DemDebate— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 21, 2019
In a move viewed as a gesture to MBS, as the Saudi crown prince is known, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Thursday that MBS and his father, King Salman “deserve credit” for their roles in extending a ceasefire in Yemen.
The United States also thanked OPEC+, the Saudi-led intergovernmental oil production and export organization, for announcing it will ramp up its oil production by 200,000 barrels per day over the summer.
This marks a change in the Saudi stance against increasing oil production since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted the global oil market.
Yet despite all the reports of an imminent Biden visit to Saudi Arabia, the US president said during remarks delivered on Friday that he has “no direct plans” to visit the kingdom at the moment.
Despite various reports stating Biden will visit Saudi Arabia, the US president said during remarks delivered on Friday that he has "no direct plans" to visit the kingdom at the moment.
President Biden says he has no "direct plans" to go visit Saudi Arabia at the end of the month pic.twitter.com/7tdf3KaR1s— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 3, 2022
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.