Jerusalem prepares for President Biden's visit

The IDF, Shin Bet, and police plan to increase security in Judea and Samaria during Biden's visit.

 US PRESIDENT Joe Biden disembarks from Air Force One last month. Next week, he’ll be greeted in Jerusalem by Prime Minister Yair Lapid and a number of hot issues on the Israel-US agenda.  (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS)
US PRESIDENT Joe Biden disembarks from Air Force One last month. Next week, he’ll be greeted in Jerusalem by Prime Minister Yair Lapid and a number of hot issues on the Israel-US agenda.
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS)

US President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Israel on Wednesday for his first trip to the region since entering office last year.

Biden is set to fly directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia on Thursday, in a sign of ties between Jerusalem and Riyadh that have not only grown closer in recent years but more open.

During the trip, the president is expected to announce that Israel approved new security arrangements in the Strait of Tiran, allowing Saudi Arabia to reclaim the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir. In exchange, the kingdom will allow Israeli airlines to fly over its airspace and schedule direct flights between the countries for Muslims making the pilgrimage to Mecca.

US military helicopters at the First Station, Jerusalem (VIDEO CREDIT: Yaakov Katz)

Biden’s visit to Israel will begin at Ben-Gurion Airport, where the Defense Ministry will present an Iron Dome battery and the prototype of Iron Beam, Israel’s laser-based missile defense system, which is in development.

He was scheduled to visit the Palmahim Airbase, but the ministry confirmed on Sunday that it moved the presentation to save the president time.

The president’s next stop in Israel will be at Yad Vashem, which he will reach via helicopter from Ben-Gurion Airport. He is expected to meet with two female Holocaust survivors who are dual US-Israeli citizens.

While in Israel, Biden will meet with Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and they will give a joint statement to the media.

In addition, the president will give a speech at the Maccabiah Games, along with Lapid and President Isaac Herzog.

Biden is set to receive a Presidential Medal of Honor from Herzog as well.

He is also scheduled to meet with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Biden administration has asked Israel to make gestures toward the Palestinians, but Jerusalem has yet to make any public gestures or statements. Some of the previously reported suggestions – such as for Palestinians to help staff the Allenby Crossing into Jordan or to allow 4G cellular Internet for Palestinians in the West Bank – are not expected to come to fruition, the first for security reasons and the second for technical ones.

 US military helicopters at the First Station, Jerusalem, ahead of President Biden's visit later this week. (credit: YAAKOV KATZ) US military helicopters at the First Station, Jerusalem, ahead of President Biden's visit later this week. (credit: YAAKOV KATZ)

Biden is set to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Friday, as well as either Al Makassed or Augusta Victoria Hospital, Palestinian medical centers near the Mount of Olives, and to announce an aid package for east Jerusalem hospitals.

Former US VP Joe Biden at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem March 9, 2010 (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)Former US VP Joe Biden at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem March 9, 2010 (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

The US president also plans to visit either Al Makassed or Augusta Victoria Hospital, Palestinian medical centers near the Mount of Olives.

Traffic expected

A total of 16,000 police and Border Police officers are expected to patrol the streets in areas that Biden plans to visit.

Route 1 will be closed between the Shapirim and Sakharov interchanges in both directions on Wednesday from 3-5 p.m., along with Route 6 from the Ben Shemen to Nesharim interchanges at the same time.

Those same roads will be closed on Friday, when Biden flies via helicopter from Bethlehem to Ben-Gurion Airport.

First station parking lot preparations for Biden helicopter arrival. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)First station parking lot preparations for Biden helicopter arrival. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Jerusalem’s Begin Boulevard will remain open throughout Biden’s visit.

International flights that were set to take off from Terminal 1 from Wednesday at 1 a.m. until Sunday at 1 a.m. will be moved to Terminal 3.

The IDF, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and police plan to increase security in Judea and Samaria during Biden’s visit as well.

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.