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Biden departs Israel for Saudi Arabia

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF Final preparations before the departurel of US President Joe Biden, at the Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, July 15, 2022.
JULY 15, 2022 15:37
WATCH: Departure ceremony for US President Joe Biden

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JULY 15, 2022 14:46
Final preparations take place for Biden's flight to Saudi Arabia

Final preparations for the flight of US President Joe Biden to Saudi Arabia have begun. 

 Final preparations before the departurel of US President Joe Biden, at the Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, July 15, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

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JULY 15, 2022 14:40
Biden: I support two states based on pre-1967 lines Biden did not cede to Abbas' request to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, but he spoke of a "future Palestinian state" and one with continuous territory. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Joe Biden give a statement, in Bethlehem in the West Bank July 15, 2022.

US President Joe Biden pledged his support for a two-state resolution based on the pre-1967 lines with mutual swaps when he held a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday in Bethlehem.

He did not cede to Abbas' request to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, but he spoke of a "future Palestinian state" and one with continuous territory.

"Two states along the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, remains the best way to achieve equal measures of security prosperity freedom and democracy for the Palestinians as well as Israelis.

“The Palestinian people deserve a state of their own that is independent, sovereign, viable and continuous,” Biden said. 

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Joe Biden react after a statement, in Bethlehem in the West Bank July 15, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

When will Israel and the PA hold talks?

Despite this, he said, the ground is "not ripe" at "this moment to restart negotiations."

It is possible, however, he said, to use Israel's new ties with its neighbors to improve relations with the Palestinians.

 US President Joe Biden gives a statement, in Bethlehem in the West Bank July 15, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

“At this moment, when Israel is improving relations with nations throughout the region we can harness that same momentum to reinvigorate the peace process between the Palestinian people and the Israelis,” Biden said. 

When it came to Jerusalem, Biden said, “it was central to the national visions of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

The issues

“Jerusalem must be a city for all its people. Its holy sites preserving its status quo, with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan continuing to serve as custodian,” Biden explained.

Biden acknowledged the loss of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed in May while covering an IDF raid in Jenin. The US has said that is likely she was accidentally shot by an IDF soldier. 

"She was an American citizen and a proud Palestinian," whose work was vital to democracy, Biden said. 

"The US will continue to insist on a full and transparent accounting of her death," he said. 

To help improve Palestinian day-to-day life, Biden said, he was pledging an additional $200 million to the United Relief and Works Agency.

Biden also referenced the pledge he made earlier in the day when he visited Augusta Victoria hospital in east Jerusalem for $100 million for Palestinian health care services in east Jerusalem.

The United States has engaged with Israel on steps to improve life for Palestinians including the provision of a 4G internet system for Palestinians, renewable energy and freedom of movement for goods and people. 

"We cannot wait for a peace agreement to solve everything. The best way to keep the hope is to stick to the goal that things will get better," said Biden. 

"The Palestinian Authority has its own work to do," he said, listing them as insisting on and prioritizing democracy, transparency and implementing more transparency. 

"This is critical to building a democratic Palestinian society."

Abbas urged the United States to unilaterally recognize the state of Palestinian with east Jerusalem as its capital “on the 1967 borders" and called on it to end the “Israeli occupation.”

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JULY 15, 2022 12:31
Biden's visit: All Jerusalem roads reopen to traffic

All the roads in Jerusalem have reopened for traffic as US President Joe Biden continues on his visit to the region, meeting Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem. 

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JULY 15, 2022 12:03
Biden visits east Jerusalem without Israeli flag on limousine Move seen as directly undermining Israeli sovereignty over eastern part of capital. Screenshots from Israel Police video showing that an Israeli flag on Biden's vehicle was replaced with an American flag when entering east Jerusalem

During Joe Biden's visit to Israel this week, he showered the country with love. He spoke about how someone does not have to be Jewish to be a Zionist and how he would always support Israel's right to defend itself by itself. 

On Friday though, Biden arrived at the east Jerusalem hospital Augusta Victoria in a limousine without an Israeli flag, a sharp break from the way he traveled throughout Israel over the last few days when his armored limousine - known as the "Beast" - had an Israeli flag on one side and an American flag on the other. 

The move is a direct undermining of Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem, a part of the capital annexed by Israel shortly after the Six Day War in 1967. 

Biden's visit to east Jerusalem had already angered Israelis after he refused a request to allow a government official to accompany him on the visit to the hospital where he committed $100 million to Palestinian hospitals, adding to funds already allocated to the matter.

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JULY 15, 2022 11:57
Biden meets with Abbas at presidential compound in Bethlehem

US President Joe Biden arrived on Friday at the Muqata’a Presidential Compound in Bethlehem and met with Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas. 

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomes US President Joe Biden in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 15, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

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JULY 15, 2022 11:41
US President Joe Biden on his way to meet PA head Abbas

US President Joe Biden is en route to Bethlehem where he will meet Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas at the Muqata’a Presidential Compound.

He began the journey to Bethlehem after delivering an address at the Augusta Victoria hospital in east Jerusalem.

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JULY 15, 2022 11:15
US to commit additional $100 million to Palestinian hospitals "The US has been proud to support this network of hospitals with $85 million since 2014... for respect and dignity" of Palestinians, said Biden. US President Joe Biden meets with Israeli President Isaac Herzog at his residence in Jerusalem, July 14, 2022

The US will commit an additional $100 million to Palestinian hospitals, adding onto funds already allocated to the matter, US President Joe Biden said at the Augusta Victoria hospital in east Jerusalem on Friday morning.

"The US has been proud to support this network of hospitals with $85 million since 2014... for respect and dignity" of Palestinians, he said, adding that the US will continue to support access to healthcare for all. 

Biden began his speech at the hospital on Friday with: Before I begin, I'd like to remind you of the expression 'Hope springs eternal.' When I was a US senator, my colleagues used to joke with me that I was quoting Irish poets. They thought I did it because I was Irish. I did it because they are the best poets of the world," he said.

He then quoted a line from The Cure of Troy Seamus Heaney:

The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

The convoy bringing US President Joe Biden to the Augusta Victoria hospital in east Jerusalem, July 15, 2022 (credit: Israel Police).

"It is my prayer that we are reaching one of those moments where hope and history rhyme." 

He paid special tribute to the nurses. 

"Your historical visit to east Jerusalem shows support for the Palestinian people," said the head of the Augusta Victoria hospital Dr. Fadi Atrash as he greeted US President Joe Biden at the east Jerusalem hospital. 

"We are like the Americans. They have an American dream, and we have ours. For that, we need support, justice and freedom. Thank you for your support." 

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JULY 15, 2022 09:31
President Joe Biden' Saudi Arabia schedule

The trip to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is scheduled for Friday afternoon. Upon arrival, Biden will meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud at the Al Salam Royal Palace. 

Biden and his team will join Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Saudi Ministers for a working session.

The following day, Biden will attend a Gulf Cooperation Council  + 3 summit meeting and participate in a working lunch. This will be followed by a family photo with GCC + 3 leaders.

That Saturday, the President will hold separate bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi of Iraq. President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Egypt. and Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates.

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JULY 15, 2022 09:07
Biden's third day: Palestinian diplomatic blitz visits Biden's third day: Palestinian diplomatic blitz visits

On Friday, US President Joe Biden will close out his visit to Israel on his third day by visiting Augusta Victoria hospital in east Jerusalem at around 10:30 a.m. and will proceed to visit Bethlehem about an hour later to meet with Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas at the Muqata’a Presidential Compound.

Around 1 p.m., Biden and Abbas are expected to deliver a joint address. 

He will then visit the Church of the Nativity. 

A protest for Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is planned for Biden's east Jerusalem visit.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid will take part in a small farewell ceremony for Biden as he departs for Saudi Arabia to discuss regional issues, including oil. 

Overnight, Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation announced that it had decided to allow "all air carriers that meet the requirements of the authority" to fly in the Kingdom's airspace, a decision that will allow Israeli airlines to fly over the entire country.

Biden's flight from Tel Aviv to Jeddah is scheduled for around 3:30 p.m. 

 

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JULY 15, 2022 08:52
Lapid, Herzog raised issue of Israeli captives in Gaza with Biden The weight of the US could significantly influence the development and trajectory of the negotiations, said President Isaac Herzog. US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Yair Lapid meet on the second day of Biden's visit

The issue of the four Israeli prisoners being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip was raised by Prime Minister Yair Lapid when he spoke with US President Joe Biden on Thursday, KAN reported. 

The weight of the US could significantly influence the development and trajectory of the negotiations, President Isaac Herzog emphasized during the meeting, according to KAN. 

What's the background?

Just two weeks ago, ahead of Biden's visit, Hamas released an urgent warning of the deteriorating health of one of the Israelis still in Gaza, releasing a video hours later to back up the announcement. 

Hamas is understood to be holding captive two Israeli civilians, both of whom suffer from mental illness. It is believed that as a result of this illness, they crossed into Gaza.

Israelis Hadar Goldin, Oron Shaul, Avera Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed being held by Hamas in Gaza (credit: COURTESY OF THE FAMILY/FACEBOOK)

Ashkelon resident Avera Mengistu, originally from Ethiopia, has been held captive since he entered Gaza in September 2014. Hisham al-Sayed, from the Bedouin town of al-Hura in the Negev, entered Gaza in April 2015.

Separately, Hamas is also believed to be holding the remains of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war: Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul.

Can an Israeli civilian help?

A day later, Hamas said it would allow an Israeli left-wing activist, Yoel Marshak, to visit the Strip. At the time, he was still waiting for permission from Israel. 

Marshak had said that he wanted to try to use his connections there to help free the hostages. Hamas had granted him a three-day visit with a security guarantee, three months ago.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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JULY 15, 2022 08:50
Biden's Jerusalem visit: These are Friday's road closures

It's the third and final day of US President Joe Biden's trip to Israel. Which roads will be blocked in Jerusalem today? We've got you covered. 

By approximately 10 a.m., traffic at specific points on the following roads will be closed: 

  • Yitzhak Kariv Street, which begins near the Waldorf Astoria hotel and crosses into east Jerusalem at the Old City;
  • Agron Street, in both directions;
  • Shlomo HaMelech Street;
  • HaTsanhanim Street, at the northern border of the old city;
  • Kheil ha-Handasa Street, the highway taking Jerusalem north from Damascus Gate and continuing to Haim Bar Lev Boulevard, University Boulevard and Yitshak HaNadiv Street by the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

The traffic blockages effectively secure all the main passageways from west Jerusalem to east where they intersect with the old city. 

Israel and Border Police officers, as well as volunteers, were placed at points throughout the city on Friday morning.

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JULY 15, 2022 07:26
What's on Biden's schedule on his last day in Israel? President Biden will travel to Bethlehem to meet with Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority. US President Joe Biden meets with Israeli President Isaac Herzog at his residence in Jerusalem, July 14, 2022

US President Joe Biden will depart Israel Friday afternoon, on a direct flight from Tel Aviv to Saudi Arabia.

Much of his last day will focus on the Palestinian Authority, as he expected to announce that the US will contribute $100 million for the east Jerusalem hospital network. According to a senior administration official, the network provides services to 50,000 patients from east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza annually.

“At the meeting, President Biden will underscore his commitment to a two-state solution which President Biden and Prime Minister Lapid both affirm their support for at the press conference.”

US official


Meeting with Abbas

After visiting the Augusta Victoria hospital – without being accompanied by Israeli officials – he will travel to Bethlehem where he will meet with Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority.

“At the meeting, President Biden will underscore his commitment to a two-state solution which President Biden and Prime Minister Lapid both affirm their support for at the press conference,” the official said.

President Biden will announce an additional $201 million for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), the official said. “It has been a priority for President Biden to rebuild ties with the Palestinians that were severed by the previous administration.”

Then US Vice-President Joe Biden meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah March 9, 2016. (credit: REUTERS/DEBBIE HILL/POOL)

Biden will also announce that Israel and the Palestinian Authority will relaunch Israeli Palestinian economic discussions by reconvening the Joint Economic Committee that last met all the way back in 2009, the official added, saying this is “a long-awaited step.”

Later, he will visit the Church of the Nativity, “to underscore support for Christians who face challenges in the region, the official continued. “

Flight to Saudi Arabia

After that, he will become the first American President to fly directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia, where he will carry a message encouraging peace, stability, and an integrated, more interconnected region.

”After landing in Jeddah, President Biden will have bilateral meetings with Saudi leaders including the King, the Crown Prince, and ministers from across the Saudi government together with his team," said the official.

Speaking about Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the official said that Biden is “committed to ensuring that the United States will not leave a vacuum in the Middle East to be filled by China, Russia or others.”

“That would be a great danger to the Middle East, to the people of the Middle East, and ultimately to the United States of America,” the official said. “So for Putin to be visiting Tehran at this moment in history, and we know that he is hoping to receive a significant number of drones and UAVs from Iran to fight his illegal war on aggression in Ukraine - that speaks for itself. Putin is making a bet on Iran, we’re making a bet on a stable, more integrated, more prosperous, more secure, Middle East.”

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JULY 14, 2022 20:53
21st Maccabiah Games kick off amid much fanfare This year's Games are expected to be the world's largest sporting event for the year 2022.  US President Joe Biden poses with the US athletes at Teddy Stadium, in Jerusalem, July 14, 2022

US President Joe Biden has arrived at the opening ceremony of the 2022 Maccabiah Games at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.

Minutes before the scheduled start of the ceremony, the stadium suffered a power outage after an electrical box caught on fire.

The power outage has since been fixed and the ceremony is set to go ahead as planned.

The Maccabiah Games have been held in Israel since 1932. The games, which take place every four years but were pushed off one year due to COVID, currently recognize all 28 Olympic sports plus some extras like chess and cricket.

This year's games are expected to be the world's largest sporting event for the year 2022. 

 US President Joe Biden, Israel Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Israel President Isaac Herzog attend the the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah in Jerusalem July 14, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)

About 10,000 athletes from 80 countries competing in the event will participate in 42 sporting events watched by tens of thousands of spectators.

The full event spans two weeks and different teams will compete in venues in Jerusalem, Haifa and Netanya. It is overseen by its parent organization, Maccabi World Union, which is also responsible for the European Maccabiah Games, Pan American Maccabiah Games and Oceania Maccabiah Games.

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JULY 14, 2022 20:18
Netanyahu and Biden hold talk on Iran Netanyahu emphasized that "if and when" he returns to office, his hard stance on Iran will remain the same. US President Joe Biden with Israeli opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu on July 14, 2022

Former Prime Minister and head of the opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu, had a longer-than-planned meeting with US president Joe Biden.

The two recalled joint memories and mainly discussed the Iranian nuclear issue. "Without a reliable military option, it will be impossible to stop Iran, and if it is not deterred, the military option must be exercised," Netanyahu told Biden.

"He has supported us in many things throughout the years. We have been friends for 40 years, but to ensure friendship for the next 40 years we have to address the Iranian threat. We need one thing, and I told him that."

"Economic sanctions and even a defensive pact are not enough, there is a need for a military-offensive option on Iran, without it, nothing will work," Netanyahu told reporters after his conversation with President Biden.

Netanyahu also emphasized that "if and when" he returns to office, this will remain his stance towards Iran and the US.

"This is my position, this is my commitment, and I very much hope that this is also the American position. Biden said he agrees with my position and I was glad to hear that. This is what I will do if and when I return to the Prime Minister's Office."

"Biden said he agrees with my position and I was glad to hear that. This is what I will do if and when I return to the Prime Minister's Office."

Benjamin Netanyahu
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JULY 14, 2022 19:12
Biden invites President Herzog to Washington Biden invites President Herzog to Washington

US President Joe Biden invited Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog to visit the White House during a meeting between the two on Thursday afternoon.

Biden also noted that his phone "is always available" for Herzog, asking him to contact him whenever he needs.

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JULY 14, 2022 18:48
Biden receives Presidential Medal of Honor from Herzog Later, Biden and Herzog are scheduled to attend the opening of the Macabbiah Games in southern Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium. President Isaac Herzog presents the Presidential Medal to US president Joe Biden at the president Residence in Jerusalem. on July 14, 2022. Joe Biden on his first official visit to Israel since becoming US president.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog is awarding US President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Honor, the highest honor that can be awarded by the Israeli president.

The Presidential Medal of Honor is awarded to individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to Israel or to humanity through their talents, their service, or in any other way.

Israel will not be alone because the US will always be by its side," Biden said before receiving the medal. "There is still a lot of work to do, this is why the US is committed to Israel's security...it's not about me or any other president, it's about the deep connection between our nations," the US president added.

Former recipients of the Presidential Medal of Honor include former US president Barack Obama, former German chancellor Angela Merkel, former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and more.

President Joe Biden arrived Thursday afternoon at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem where he met with President Isaac Herzog. Biden was greeted by Israeli kids waving Israeli and American flags.

"Together we will stay true to our core values," Biden stressed. "We'll make hope and history rhyme."

Herzog presented Biden with the Presidential Medal of Honor. "Your journey of peace here in the Middle East comes at the pivotal hour of a challenged world order," the Israeli president told his American counterpart.

"I believe that a strong and vibrant US-Israel partnership has seldom been more critical to our countries, to the Middle East, and to global stability and sustainability, peace and prosperity, democracy and decency."

 President Joe Biden's greeting in the guest book at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on July 14. (credit: PRESIDENT'S OFFICE)

Biden wrote in Herzog's guest book the following: "Bougie, my friend, thank you for all you and your family have done to deepen the ironclad bond between our two great countries. From our shared Irish roots to our shared love of Israel, we are united in heart and spirit. May our friendship endure and continue to grow! That is the Irish of it, as my grandfather Finnegan would say. God bless you. Joe."

Later, Biden and Herzog are scheduled to attend the opening of the Macabbiah Games in southern Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium.

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JULY 14, 2022 17:44
Biden meets with Netanyahu

US President Joe Biden is meeting with Opposition leader and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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JULY 14, 2022 17:00
Biden arrives at President's Residence with Herzog

US President Joe Biden arrives at the President's Residence with President Isaac Herzog.

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JULY 14, 2022 15:49
Biden says US won’t wait forever for Iran deal, doesn’t set deadline Prime Minister Yair Lapid told Biden in their meeting that the nuclear talks to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action cannot continue to be open-ended and must have a deadline. US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid signing the Jerusalem Declaration

The US will not wait indefinitely for Iran to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal, US President Joe Biden said in Jerusalem on Thursday, while declining to set a deadline for the end of negotiations.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid told Biden in their meeting that the nuclear talks to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action cannot continue to be open-ended and must have a deadline, a senior source said. Lapid also said the Western parties to the 2015 Iran Deal must call the UN Security Council and snap back sanctions on the Islamic Republic for its nuclear violations.

Asked about a deadline in the subsequent press conference, Biden said: “We’ve laid out for the leadership of Iran what we’re willing to accept to get into the JCPOA, and we’re waiting for a response. When it will come is uncertain but we’re not going to wait forever.”

Biden said the US is “committed to ensuring Iran never obtains nuclear weapons” and that doing so was “vital to the security of Israel and the US and the rest of the world as well.” 

“I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome, while continuing to work with Israel to counter other threats ….[such as] proxies like Hezbollah,” Biden said.

US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Yair Lapid meet on the second day of Biden's visit (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

Lapid and Biden signed The Jerusalem US-Israel Strategic Partnership Joint Declaration after their meeting, a statement that includes an affirmation that the US is prepared to use military force against Iran, but Lapid appeared to call for a stronger statement.

“The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program the free world will use force. The only way to stop them is to put a credible military threat on the table,” Lapid said.

“It should not be a bluff, it should be the real thing,” Lapid stated. “The Iranian regime must know that if they continue to deceive the world, they will pay a heavy price.” 

The United States stresses in the Jerusalem Declaration “that integral to this pledge” - a commitment to Israel’s security and qualitative military edge - “is the commitment never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and that it is prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome.” 

The declaration also states that the US will work with “other partners” against Iranian aggression and destabilizing actions it takes directly or through proxies.

Biden remarked on “how important it was from my perspective for Israel to be totally integrated in the region,” and Lapid said that BIden’s trip to Saudi Arabia “is important for Israel and the region, for our security and the future prosperity of the Middle East.”

“Our hand is outstretched for peace,” Lapid stated in a message he said he wanted Biden to relay to Gulf States. “We are ready to share our technology and experience, ready for our people to meet and learn about one another, aready for our scientists to collaborate and our businesses to cooperate.” 

Biden said he will be “carrying a direct message of peace” and will “continue building on the Abraham Accords, which I strongly support because they deepen Israel’s integration in the broader region…Israel’s peace with its newborns [is an] essential goal.” 

Saudi-Israel normalization?

The US president plans to fly directly to Jeddah from Israel, and expected to announce an agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia by which Israeli commercial flights can enter Saudi airspace, in exchange for Israel agreeing to changes in security arrangements in the Straits of Tiran. The countries are also in talks for Saudi Arabia to allow a limited number of direct flights from Israel for Muslims taking part in the pilgrimage to Mecca, but it they may not be completed in time for Biden’s visit.

Biden and Lapid did not confirm the overflights agreement when asked about it in the press conference, but Lapid said Israel is “open to normalization,” and Biden said he is “optimistic.” 

The US president said that he will continue to speak about human rights violations by Saudi Arabia, including the murder of writer Jamal Khashoggi. 

“The reason I’m going to Saudi Arabia is to promote US interests,” Biden said. “I think we have an opportunity to reassert what I think we made a mistake of walking away from - our influence in the Middle East. I am meeting with nine heads of state…I want to make clear we can continue to lead the region and not create a vacuum filled by China and or Russia.”

In addition, the US supports a follow-on Memorandum of Understanding to follow the one signed in 2016 granting Israel $38 billion in defense aid to be spent in the US, as well as additional funding for missile defense, such as the $1 billion to replenish the Iron Dome missile defense system following the conflict with Hamas in Gaza last year. Biden said that he was proud to be part of the administrations that approved that funding.

“Nothing better reflects the steadfast and bipartisan support of the US to Israel’s security than the unprecedented [MOU] on security assistance signed by successive US administrations over the past few decades,” the declaration states.

Remarking on the strength of the US-Israel relationship, Biden quipped: “Like it or not, we’re with you. There’s no way out.” 

The countries also said they will promote cooperation in developing “cutting edge defense technologies” like laser weapons systems.

Biden mentioned in the press conference that he had reviewed the Iron Dome as well as the prototype of the Iron Beam laser-based missile defense system, and said they “can defend Israeli lives as well as lives of American servicemen.”

In the Jerusalem Declaration, Israel also thanked the US for supporting the Abraham Accords, which the country said are “important to the future of the Middle East region and to the cause of regions security, prosperity and peace.” 

The countries also expressed concern for the ongoing war on Ukraine, and their “commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and affirm the importance of continued humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine.”

Biden said that “Israel and the US stand together to defend fundamental values and to underwrite global prosperity and freedom.

“Putin’s assault on Ukraine is a challenge to peace and stability everywhere,” Biden stated. “The free world must sustain our resolve to help Ukraine. The US will continue to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people who have been devastated by Russian violence.” 

In addition, they said they will work together to combat boycott and delegitimization efforts against Israel, including at the UN or the International Criminal Court. 

“While fully respecting the right to freedom of expression, they firmly reject the BDS campaign,” the declaration reads. “The two countries will use the tools at their disposal to fight every scourge and source of antisemitism and to respond whenever legitimate criticism crosses over into bigotry and hatred or attempts to undermine Israel’s rightful and legitimate place among the family of nations.”

“The United States is proud to stand with the Jewish and democratic State of Israel, and with its people, whose uncommon courage, resilience, and spirit of innovation are an inspiration to so many worldwide,” the declaration states.

The declaration also mentions Israeli-Palestinian relations, condemning terrorism, and a shared commitment to initiatives improving Palestinians’ economy and quality of life. Biden reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution. Though he did not do so in the declaration, Lapid said in the press conference that he believes a two-state solution will preserve a democratic Israel with a Jewish majority.

Biden did not make any requests of Israel pertaining to the Palestinians during the meeting with Lapid, other than that there not be any surprises, the senior source said. During Biden’s visit to Israel as vice president in 2010, thousands of new homes in east Jerusalem were announced, causing a diplomatic crisis.

In the president’s public remarks, he called for Israel not to take any steps that could obstruct an eventual two-state solution for “two peoples with deep, ancient roots in this land, living side by side in peace and security.” Such a solution will allow Israel to “remain a Jewish and democratic state,” he said.

In addition, the Jerusalem Declaration mentions the launch of the US-Israel Strategic High-Level Dialogue on Technology, which is a partnership on critical and emerging tech and areas of global concern such as pandemic preparedness, climate change and artificial intelligence. They agreed to cooperate on cyber exchange and combatting cybercrime.

The Jerusalem Declaration also includes a commitment to continue working towards allowing Israelis and Americans to travel between the countries without a visa. Responding to a question about the matter, Biden expressed hope that the process will be finished soon. Lapid asked the opposition - which blocked necessary legislation for Israel to join the Visa Waiver Program - to be more cooperative.

Lapid opened his remarks before the press referring to shared values between Israel and the US.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Iran nuclear threat reminds us that “in order to protect freedom, sometimes force must be used,” Lapid said.

The reason these countries attack democracies is fear, he added.

“What scares them the most is that their citizens, their people can see us. They can see our quality of life. The dynamism and creativity of our economy. The rights of women and the LGBTQ community. Freedom of religion and freedom of speech,” Lapid said. “Our way of life is what threatens them.” 

Biden repeated his well-trod story about former prime minister Golda Meir telling him, then a young senator visiting Israel in 1973, that “Israel has a secret weapon: We have nowhere else to go.”

“The scourge of antisemitism still marches around the world,” Biden said. “We must never forget the horrors to which unchecked hatred could lead, which is why I wanted to visit Yad Vashem…to renew our vow of never again.”

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JULY 14, 2022 14:42
Lapid to Biden: Put a credible military threat to Iran on the table The United States affirms a military threat to Iran in the Jerusalem Declaration. US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Yair Lapid meet on the second day of Biden's visit

The US reaffirmed that it is prepared to use military force to stop Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon, in the Jerusalem US-Israel Strategic Partnership Joint Declaration US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid was set to sign after their meeting on Thursday.

The United States stresses in the Jerusalem Declaration “that integral to this pledge” - a commitment to Israel’s security and qualitative military edge - “is the commitment never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and that it is prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome.” 

Following his meeting with Biden, Lapid said that “the only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program the free world will use force. The only way to stop them is to put a credible military threat on the table.”

“It should not be a bluff, it should be the real thing,” Lapid stated. “The Iranian regime must know that if they continue to deceive the world, they will pay a heavy price.” 

In the meeting, Lapid told Biden that nuclear talks with Iran cannot continue to be open-ended and must have a deadline, a senior source said. He also said the Western parties to the 2015 Iran Deal must call the UN Security Council and snap back sanctions on the Islamic Republic for its nuclear violations.

“The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program the free world will use force. The only way to stop them is to put a credible military threat on the table.”

Prime Minister Yair Lapid

In the Jerusalem Declaration, the US also said it will work with “other partners” against Iranian aggression and destabilizing actions it takes directly or through proxies.

Background

The declaration comes a day after Biden said in an interview with Channel 12 News that the US would use military force against Iran “as a last resort.” 

 Prime Minister Yair Lapid preparing for a meeting with US President Joe Biden. (credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)

Biden also remarked on “how important it was from my perspective for Israel to be totally integrated into the region,” and Lapid said that Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia “is important for Israel and the region, for our security and the future prosperity of the Middle East.”

“Our hand is outstretched for peace,” Lapid stated in a message he said he wanted Biden to relay to the Gulf States. “We are ready to share our technology and experience, ready for our people to meet and learn about one another, already for our scientists to collaborate and our businesses to cooperate.” 

The US president plans to fly directly to Jeddah from Israel and is expected to announce an agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia by which Israeli commercial flights can enter Saudi airspace, in exchange for Israel agreeing to changes in security arrangements in the Straits of Tiran. The countries are also in talks for Saudi Arabia to allow a limited number of direct flights from Israel for Muslims taking part in the pilgrimage to Mecca, but it they may not be completed in time for Biden’s visit.

In addition, the US supports a follow-on Memorandum of Understanding to follow the one signed in 2016 granting Israel $38 billion in defense aid to be spent in the US, as well as additional funding for missile defense, such as the $1 billion to replenish the Iron Dome following the conflict with Hamas in Gaza last year.

The countries also said they will promote cooperation in developing “cutting edge defense technologies” like laser weapons systems.

“Nothing better reflects the steadfast and bipartisan support of the US to Israel’s security than the unprecedented [MOU] on security assistance signed by successive US administrations over the past few decades,” the declaration states.

Israel also thanked the US for supporting the Abraham Accords, which the country said are “important to the future of the Middle East region and to the cause of regions security, prosperity and peace.” 

The countries also expressed concern for the ongoing war on Ukraine, and their “commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and affirm the importance of continued humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine.”

In addition, they said they will work together to combat boycott and delegitimization efforts against Israel, including at the UN or the International Criminal Court. 

“While fully respecting the right to freedom of expression, they firmly reject the BDS campaign,” the declaration reads. “The two countries will use the tools at their disposal to fight every scourge and source of antisemitism and to respond whenever legitimate criticism crosses over into bigotry and hatred or attempts to undermine Israel’s rightful and legitimate place among the family of nations.”

“The United States is proud to stand with the Jewish and democratic State of Israel, and with its people, whose uncommon courage, resilience, and spirit of innovation are an inspiration to so many worldwide,” the declaration states.

The declaration also mentions Israeli-Palestinian relations, condemning terrorism, and a shared commitment to initiatives to improve Palestinians’ economy and quality of life. Biden reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution.

Biden did not make any requests of Israel pertaining to the Palestinians during the meeting with Lapid, other than that there not be any surprises, the senior source said. During Biden’s visit to Israel as vice president in 2010, thousands of new homes in east Jerusalem were announced, causing a diplomatic crisis.

In addition, the Jerusalem Declaration mentions the launch of the US-Israel Strategic High-Level Dialogue on Technology, which is a partnership on critical and emerging tech and areas of global concern such as pandemic preparedness, climate change and artificial intelligence. They agreed to cooperate on cyber exchange and combatting cybercrime.

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JULY 14, 2022 14:39
What is in the US-Israel joint declaration? - explainer Prime Minister Yair Lapid and US President Joe Biden signed a joint declaration after meeting on the second day of Biden's visit to Israel. Prime Minister Yair Lapid and US President Joe Biden meet during Biden's visit to Israel.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and US President Joe Biden signed a joint declaration on Thursday reaffirming the two nations' partnership and cooperation when it comes to Iran among other topics that Israel and the US have joint interests in.

The declaration was signed after a meeting held between Lapid and Biden on the second day of Biden's visit to Israel.

Iran

The declaration reiterated the US commitment to ensuring that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon and that it is "prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome."

The US also pledged to continue to work with partner nations to stop Iran's attempts to destabilize the region both directly and through proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Yair Lapid meet on the second day of Biden's visit (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

Memorandum of Understanding

The declaration also referred to the $38 billion MOU on security assistance supplied to Israel by the US that has been signed over the last few decades by consecutive US administrations.

The declaration expressed the US's conviction to add a follow-up MOU to "address emerging threats and new realities."

Israel expressed its appreciation of the US's assistance, and the two countries expressed enthusiasm for moving forward with a close defense partnership.

The Abraham Accords

Israel thanked the US for its support in the Abraham Accords, and Israel and the US reiterated the importance of the Negev Forum that met last month in Bahrain. 

The declaration expressed the commitment of the US to the effort of expanding the accords with Saudi Arabia in Biden's upcoming visit over the weekend as well as including further Arab and Muslim countries.

Anti-Israel and antisemitic attacks

The two nations reaffirmed their dedication to fighting against efforts to boycott and delegitimize Israel as well as efforts to unfairly single it out in organizations such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court.

The declaration also committed to fighting against antisemitism and the US reiterated its pride of standing "with the Jewish and democratic State of Israel."

Israeli-Palestinian Relations

Regarding the tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, both nations condemned the series of terror attacks in recent months and affirmed "the need to confront radical forces... seeking to inflame tension and instigate violence and terrorism."

Biden reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution and expressed the US's readiness to work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to make a peaceful solution to the tensions possible. 

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JULY 14, 2022 14:38
Biden and Lapid sign Strategic Partnership Joint Declaration

The Jerusalem US-Israel Strategic Partnership Joint Declaration was signed by Prime Minister Yair Lapid and US President Joe Biden on Thursday.

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JULY 14, 2022 14:35
Joe Biden's visit to the Middle East: The highs and lows The Jerusalem Post Podcast with Yaakov Katz and Lahav Harkov. US president Joe Biden meets with Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem, on July 14, 2022. Joe Biden on his first official visit to Israel since becoming US president.

Yaakov and Lahav this week discuss US President Joe Biden's historic visit to Israel, from Benny Gantz opening a water bottle with his teeth to Benjamin Netanyahu's profuse sweating. They also speak to Julie Platt, the new chair of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) about the crisis at the Kotel and the rise in antisemitism.

Our podcast is available on Google Play, Apple Podcasts and Spotify.   

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JULY 14, 2022 13:41
WATCH LIVE: India, Israel, UAE, US hold first 'I2U2' meeting The meeting focused on food security crisis and clean energy, proposing the advancement of programs for each. Prime Minister Yair Lapid and US President Joe Biden before their meeting with UAE and India leaders for the first I2U2 meeting.

The leaders of India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States held the first meeting of the “I2U2” Group on Thursday.

The meeting focused on food security crisis and clean energy, proposing the advancement of programs for each.

The groups affirmed their support for the Abraham Accords and the economic opportunities that are developing from the peace and normalization agreements with Israel. 

Food Security

The UAE, which is hosting the COP28 climate change conference in 2023, will invest two billion dollars for integrated food parks in India that will use climate-smart technology to reduce food waste and spoilage and conserve fresh water.

US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Yair Lapid meet on the second day of Biden's visit (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

Israel and the US will advise on the project that is aimed at maximizing crop yields in order to offer a solution to food insecurity in South Asia and the Middle East.

Clean Energy

The four nations will cooperate on clean energy projects such as a hybrid renewable energy project in India that consists of wind and solar energy that is complemented with a battery energy storage system.

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JULY 14, 2022 13:19
Biden to meet with Netanyahu Biden to meet with Netanyahu

Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden will meet at 5:15 p.m. at President Isaac Herzog's residence in Jerusalem on Thursday.

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JULY 14, 2022 13:00
Lapid after Biden meeting: There will be no nuclear Iran The United States affirms a military threat to Iran in the Jerusalem Declaration. US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Yair Lapid meet on the second day of Biden's visit

The US reaffirmed that it is prepared to use military force to stop Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon, in the Jerusalem US-Israel Strategic Partnership Joint Declaration US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid was set to sign after their meeting on Thursday.

“We discussed the Iranian threat,” Lapid said following the hour-and-a-half meeting. “There will be no nuclear Iran. This is not only a threat to Israel but to the world, and we discussed some other issues we are going to keep to ourselves.”

Biden said that “the vast majority of the American public, not just my administration, is completely devoted to Israel’s security.” 

The United States stresses in the declaration “that integral to this pledge” - a commitment to Israel’s security and qualitative military edge - “is the commitment never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and that it is prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome.” 

“There will be no nuclear Iran. This is not only a threat to Israel but to the world, and we discussed some other issues we are going to keep to ourselves.”

Prime Minister Yair Lapid

Background

The declaration comes a day after Biden said in an interview with Channel 12 News that the US would use military force against Iran “as a last resort.“

 Prime Minister Yair Lapid preparing for a meeting with US President Joe Biden. (credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)

Biden and Lapid are expected to hold a press conference later Thursday.

Biden also remarked on “how important it was from my perspective for Israel to be totally integrated into the region,” and Lapid said that Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia “is extremely important to Israel.”

The US president plans to fly directly to Jeddah from Israel and is expected to announce an agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia by which Israeli commercial flights can enter Saudi airspace, in exchange for Israel agreeing to changes in security arrangements in the Straits of Tiran. The countries are also in talks for Saudi Arabia to allow a limited number of direct flights from Israel for Muslims taking part in the pilgrimage to Mecca, but it may not be completed in time for Biden’s visit.

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JULY 14, 2022 12:28
Lapid: We're trying to build a coalition in the Middle East US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Yair Lapid meet on the second day of Biden's visit

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and US President Joe Biden discussed Iran in their meeting on Thursday.

"We are trying to build a coalition that we all need in the Middle East, and we talked about the Iranian threat in order to ensure that Iran won't have a nuclear weapon," Lapid said after their meeting.

"It's important to the whole world, not just Israel," he added.

Biden agreed with Lapid on the Iranian issue, saying that the US is committed to Israel's safety

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JULY 14, 2022 11:38
Lapid and Biden begin unilateral meeting US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Yair Lapid meet on the second day of Biden's visit

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and US President Joe Biden began their official meeting in the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Jerusalem. 

The two are later expected to meet with their teams before meeting with India and UAE leaders in an online meeting. 

After the meetings, Lapid and Biden will hold a joint press conference.

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JULY 14, 2022 11:07
Biden in Israel: President to sign declaration against Iran with Lapid The agreement includes a joint stance against Iran’s nuclear program and regional aggression. Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and US President Joe Biden participate in a welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022

President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Yair Lapid will meet on Thursday and sign the the Jerusalem Declaration of the US-Israel Strategic Partnership which will be a centerpiece of Biden’s visit to Israel to end on Friday.

The agreement includes a joint stance against Iran’s nuclear program and regional aggression, with both countries saying they will use “all elements of national power” to ensure Iran never attains a nuclear weapon.

In addition, President Biden will reaffirm his commitment to Israel’s security, including its qualitative military edge and ability to defend itself by itself.

 Prime Minister Yair Lapid preparing for a meeting with US President Joe Biden. (credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)

The declaration states the US plans to follow up on the 10-year $38 billion Memorandum of Understanding on military aid signed with Israel, addressing emerging threats and new developments in the region.

Biden and Lapid will meet for about 90 minutes and will then hold a press conference. Later in the day, Biden will travel to the President’s Residence for a reception where he will receive the presidential medal, will hold a short private meeting with Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu and will then travel to Teddy Stadium to attend the opening of the Maccabiah Games. 

White House officials have called the declaration “significant.”

“It includes a commitment to never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and to address Iran’s destabilizing activities, particularly threats to Israel,” one administration official said late Wednesday evening. 

 

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JULY 14, 2022 10:58
Prime Minister Lapid prepares for bilateral meeting with Biden Prime Minister Lapid prepares for bilateral meeting with Biden Prime Minister Yair Lapid preparing for a meeting with US President Joe Biden.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid prepared this morning for his bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden at 11:15 a.m.

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JULY 14, 2022 09:54
What does using force against Iran ‘as a last resort’ mean for the US? - analysis Israeli intelligence has often taken action based on a partial picture of what was going on in the Islamic Republic, despite uncertainties that might have meant it was acting prematurely. IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi (left) and US President Joe Biden (right)

Last night, US President Joe Biden said that he would use force to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon "as a last resort."

That sounds a lot like what a number of Israeli officials - from former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot to former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo - have said.

So is it the same thing? Probably not. The trick is defining what "a last resort" really means.

First, what does it not mean?

Former Mossad director Yossi Cohen, possibly current IDF Chief-of-Staff Aviv Kohavi and current Mossad Director David Barnea, might be in favor of striking even before the "last resort" moment.

No one wants to define this point exactly, but it would likely be once Israeli intelligence would show that Iran had made the political decision to go for a nuclear bomb and was three months or so away from accomplishing some of the tasks for this which it has not done to date.

 US President Joe Biden waves as he leaves Israel's Ben Gurion Airport, on his way to Jersualem, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022 (credit: GIL COHEN-MAGEN/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Then there are former prime ministers Naftali Bennett and Benjamin Netanyahu.

They might go for an attack also three months before, but they would almost certainly go for an attack if intelligence reported that Iran was weeks away from developing a nuclear bomb or positioning forces for potential use - meaning close enough that waiting could risk missing the moment to stop it. What Biden's statement probably means is that if US intelligence was convinced that a nuclear weapon had been developed and was on the way to being potentially deployed (within days or hours), it would then seriously consider attacking that deployment.

The difference between Israeli and US "readiness"

These differences in Israeli and US readiness to attack are not just distinct in time but in substance.

Israeli intelligence has often taken action based on a partial picture of what was going on in the Islamic Republic, despite uncertainties that might have meant it was acting prematurely.

The reason is that Jerusalem views the risks with Tehran as so high and so personal (Iranian leaders have said they want to wipe Israel off the map), that waiting for more certain confirmation sometimes is too great a risk.

In contrast, the US views the ayatollahs as a distant threat. They are not Iran's direct target and in any case, even if Tehran developed a nuclear weapon that could reach Israel, it could take the Islamic Republic another couple of years to develop missiles that could hit the US - which is much farther away.

Next, any Israeli attack might be wider than a US attack. Jerusalem might decide that if it is rolling the dice with the Islamic Republic to try to go big, and take out several nuclear sites, along with many anti-aircraft batteries.

In the highly unlikely event that the US used force, it might be much more narrowly tailored against deploying a specific weapon, or one nuclear site where that weapon was waiting to be deployed.

Moreover, US intelligence often will reject Israeli intelligence as too uncertain or with too many holes to be relied upon for taking action.

Even former US president George W. Bush, known for being much more ready to use force than Biden, was unwilling to order a US strike on Syria's secret nuclear reactor in 2007, whereas Israel was ready to do so, and did.

Former US president Ronald Reagan, also not known as squeamish about using force, blew his top at Israel when it took out Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981.

Biden and Trump

Biden has occasionally used force to take out global terrorists, especially ISIS, but has not ordered a single major operation that might risk big geopolitical consequences or a broader conflict.

The last time the US took such action was when the Trump administration ordered the assassination of Iran's IRGC Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani in January 2020. There was no war, but that action could have risked a much broader conflict with Iran.

Other than that, the Trump administration also took very few risks in using force and the truth is the last major new initiative of using force was during the Obama administration when it rallied a global coalition to return in force to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Trump continued and increased the use of force against ISIS, but never initiated a new major offensive operation on his own.

Biden withdrew from Afghanistan and has reduced the US's military footprint in a number of areas.

Throughout the conflict with Russia in Ukraine, Washington has been focused solely on sanctions and providing military aid to Ukraine, but never to even hint at using direct American force.

So what would probably really happen is Israeli intelligence would reach a point where it would say Iran was about to cross the line and American intelligence would dispute that finding.

This would likely mean Israel deciding to act first on its own and the US staying out of it.

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JULY 14, 2022 09:06
US and Israel to sign joint pledge on denying nuclear weapon to Iran Biden faces an uphill battle persuading Iran to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement that his predecessor, Donald Trump, abandoned in 2018.
By REUTERS
Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and US President Joe Biden participate in a welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022

US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday will sign a joint agreement pledging to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon on the second day of Biden's Middle East trip.

A senior Biden administration official, describing the joint declaration for reporters in a conference call, said the agreement will expand on the long-standing security relationship between the United States and Israel.

"This declaration is pretty significant, and it includes a commitment to never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and to address Iran’s destabilizing activities, particularly threats to Israel," the official said.

Biden, on his first Middle East trip since taking office in early 2021, arrived in Israel on Wednesday and has talks with Israeli leaders on Thursday. He will appear at a joint news conference with Lapid.

Biden will meet Palestinian leaders in the West Bank on Friday and hold talks with leaders of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies in Jeddah on Saturday.

 US President Joe Biden participates in a welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022 (credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

Going to be an uphill battle

Biden faces an uphill battle persuading Iran to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement that his predecessor, Donald Trump, abandoned in 2018.

Biden is likely to face questions from Israel and from Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates about the wisdom of reviving the Iran nuclear deal and what the United States will do to counter Iran’s regional actions, regardless of whether the deal is resurrected.

In an Israeli television interview on Wednesday, Biden said the deal represented the best chance of holding up Iran's attempts to develop a nuclear bomb.

"The only thing worse than the Iran which exists now is an Iran with nuclear weapons and if we can return to the deal, we can hold them tight," he said. Asked if the United States could use force if needed, he said: "If that was the last resort, yes."

"This declaration is pretty significant, and it includes a commitment to never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and to address Iran’s destabilizing activities, particularly threats to Israel."

Senior Biden administration official

Some Israeli, as well as Gulf Arab officials, believe the deal's sanctions relief would provide Iran far more money to support proxy forces in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. They are also skeptical about whether the Biden administration will do much to counter Iran's regional activities.

Iran denies that its nuclear program is aimed at acquiring nuclear weapons.

The US official, asked if the declaration is about buying some time with Israel as Washington pursues negotiations with Iran, said: "If Iran wants to sign the deal that has been negotiated in Vienna, we have made very clear we're prepared to do that. And, at the same time, if they're not, we will continue to increase our sanctions pressure, we will continue to increase Iran's diplomatic isolation."

The official said the joint agreement will pledge ongoing US military aid for Israel and will emphasize support for the Abraham Accords, the agreements between Israel and a handful of Arab states that the Trump administration helped broker.

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JULY 13, 2022 21:40
US would use force against Iran ‘as a last resort' - President Biden “The only thing worse than Iran now is Iran with nuclear weapons,” US President Joe Biden said in an interview with Israeli media. Defense Minister Benny Gantz and US President Joe Biden attend a briefing on the Israel's Iron Dome and Iron Beam Air Defense Systems at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022

The US would use force “as a last resort” to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, US President Joe Biden said in an interview with Channel 12 News that aired soon after he arrived in Israel on Wednesday.

“The only thing worse than Iran now is Iran with nuclear weapons,” Biden said, in an explanation of why the US continues to support the revival of the 2015 Iran deal. “I think it was a giant mistake for the previous president to get out of the deal. They are closer to a nuclear weapon than ever before.”

“We can act against [the Quds Force] and still have a deal that can curtail the nuclear program. I still think it makes sense,” he added.

"We can act against [the Quds Force] and still have a deal that can curtail the nuclear program"

US President Joe Biden

Asked if the use of force against Iran was on the table, Biden responded: “As a last resort, yes.”

 US President Joe Biden speaks to IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi as Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and US Defence Attache in Israel, Brigadier General Shawn A. Harris look on, during a tour of Israel's defense system at Ben Gurion Airport (credit: GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)

When interviewer Yonit Levy pressed Biden for details, he said: “I’m not going to speculate on that, but Iran can’t get a nuclear weapon.”

The president also said that he will keep the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the State Department list of Foreign Terror Organizations even if it means Iran will not sign back on to the agreement.

Saudi-Israel normalization “going to take a long time”

As for Biden’s next stop, in Saudi Arabia, the president said he is going to promote stability in the Middle East.

“It's an overwhelming interest of the US to have stability in the region,” he said. “Those that thought that the US was going to leave behind the Middle East and leave a vacuum that either China or Russia would fill – we can’t let that happen.”

Saudi-Israel normalization “is going to take a long time,” the president said, “but increasing the relationship in terms of acceptance of each other’s presence and working on certain things makes sense to me.”

Biden also said that “the more Israel is integrated in the region as equal and accepted, the more likely… it can come to an accommodation with the Palestinians down the road.”

Asked about Democrats who voted against funding for the Iron Dome and seek to curtail aid to Israel, Biden said “there are a few of them.”

“I think they’re wrong. I think they’re making a mistake. Israel is a democracy; Israel is our ally; Israel is our friend. I make no apology... It is overwhelmingly in our interest that Israel be stable,” Biden said.

Asked if there is a danger that the Democratic Party will turn its back on Israel, Biden said no, nor would the Republican Party.

As for visiting Israel during an election, Biden said that he is “committed to the state, not an individual leader.”

Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.

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JULY 13, 2022 21:22
Despite Israeli efforts, Biden visit won’t bring snapback sanctions on Iran - analysis Washington's strategy seems to be to tolerate Iran continuing to enrich uranium to 60% for more potential bombs with the hope that Khamenei doesn't kick out the IAEA entirely. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reviews Iran's new nuclear achievements during Iran's National Nuclear Energy Day in Tehran, Iran April 10, 2021.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s deadline for Iran to fully restore its nuclear inspectors’ surveillance cameras or risk causing a “fatal blow” to the JCPOA 2015 nuclear deal passed on July 8.

France is now threatening its own deadline of early August for the Islamic Republic to return to the nuclear deal.

Israel has been campaigning for a deadline and punishing Plan B if Tehran violates the deadline.

Yet, all signs are that the visit of US President Joe Biden to Israel will bring no deadline and no specific commitment to snapback sanctions on the ayatollahs.

The US on the Iran deal

 President Isaac Herzog and US President Joe Biden listen as Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid delivers remarks during welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

In a lead-up to the trip, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said, “We’ve reunited our partners to ensure that it’s Iran, not the United States that is isolated until it returns to the nuclear deal. And the frequency of Iranian-sponsored attacks against our forces in Iraq and Syria has dropped dramatically.”

So, the strategy is isolation, but no real specifics about how and when that will get Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to back down from the nuclear threshold on which he is already basically standing.

Revealingly, Sullivan’s other main point was that Iranian-sponsored attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria are down, which was not difficult since most of them have been pulled out.

Questioned about a deadline, he responded, “We have not marked a date on the calendar. We have indicated that we believe there is a deal on the table. It is a deal that we’re backing – that our European partners are backing – that is available to Iran.”

So no deadline, no mention of a referral to the UN Security Council and no snapback threat. This means the IAEA and France are now clearly tougher and more specific about being tough than the US.

What's the next move?

Sullivan continued, “If they don’t, we’re not standing still. Even as we speak, we’ve already introduced two rounds of sanctions to crack down on their effort to evade the existing sanctions regime. We are curbing their ability to smuggle oil, for example, through the Quds Force and other entities within Iran.

“And we’ll keep doing that,” he said, and referenced “increasing pressure” and the vote against Iran by the IAEA on June 8.

While it’s true that the Biden administration recently issued new sanctions on Khamenei’s precious Quds Force affiliates, it also outed Iran for helping Russia fight against Ukraine.

However, the new sanctions have zero chance of moving the dial on Iranian behavior beyond the existing sanctions.

At most, they send a very mild message that Biden does not intend to grant new concessions to reach a deal with Iran.

So what is the US plan for preventing Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold or from using the current extended period to conceal enough of its 60% enriched uranium for multiple nuclear bombs at a later date?

Put differently: What is to stop Iran from agreeing to a return to the JCPOA in another month or two and claiming it is ready to give up all of its enriched uranium back to the 2015 nuclear limits, while in reality it will only give up some and has hidden significant quantities while the IAEA was blind?

This was exactly what the IAEA warned about on June 9.

If the Biden strategy was to block this scenario, his visit to Israel could be used to announce a UN Security Council referral and a deadline, like France suggested, of a few weeks. If Iran violated the deadline, full global snapback sanctions could be invoked. That would be teeth.

Instead, it appears that Washington is months if not more away from making any concrete deadlines or threats.

Its real strategy right now seems to be to tolerate Iran continuing to enrich uranium to 60% for more potential bombs – as well as tolerate the IAEA’s partial blindness – with the hope that Khamenei refrains from publicly jumping to 90% weaponized enrichment and kicking the IAEA from the country entirely.

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JULY 13, 2022 20:16
US President Biden holds security briefing, tours missile defense system Biden was shown the remains of a UAV that had been intercepted by the Iron Beam laser defense system. Defense Minister Benny Gantz shows US President Joe Biden a part of a UAV that was intercepted by the Iron Beam laser defense system

US President Joe Biden was presented with Israel’s latest missile defense system, the “Iron Beam” laser system during the start of his visit in Israel and Saudi Arabia this week.

Biden landed at Ben Gurion International Airport on Wednesday afternoon and was received by an honor guard and in the presence of President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Shortly after landing, Biden met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi and other senior security officials. During the briefing, Biden was shown a video of the capabilities of Israel's air defense systems.

Following the meeting, the President toured a display of the air missile defense systems including the long-range Arrow, medium-range David’s Sling, short-range Iron Dome, and the high-powered laser Iron Beam interception system.

Together the systems provide Israel with a protective umbrella able to counter threats posed by both short, mid and long-range missiles used by terror groups in Gaza and Hezbollah as well as the threat posed by more sophisticated long-range Iranian ballistic missiles. 

 Defense Ministry Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) head Daniel Gold and US President Joe Biden bump fists (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Israel continuously improves the technology behind the country’s anti-missile systems, and the Iron Dome along with the Iron Beam and naval Barak can also intercept drones and other aerial platforms. The Iron Beam is expected to work in tandem with the Iron Dome once it becomes operational in the next few years.

While at the display, Director-General of the Defense Ministry, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel, presented the Iron Beam system to the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Antony Blinken, and National Security Advisor to the President of the US, Jack Sullivan. 

Eshel also showed them the remains of an unmanned aerial vehicle and a mortar that had been intercepted by the system during a series of tests conducted this past April. 

Thanking him for the funding for additional Tamir Iron Dome interceptor missiles, Gantz told the president that the alliance between the two countries “is stronger than ever” and that Jerusalem is “confident” that Washington “will continue to take the necessary steps to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

The defense minister also noted that security cooperation in the region has intensified and expanded “in an unprecedented manner,” hinting to a regional air defense alliance that would see Israel work alongside Gulf countries to counter threats posed by Iran and its proxies.

The military cooperation in the region includes “many countries that see a need for stability and the development of sustainable peace,” he said. “Strengthening the security stability the United States is leading in the region, is a condition for both economic development and preserving human rights, and I am sure that under your leadership and together with all US security bodies, we will continue to develop it in all areas — air, sea, land and cyber.”

Kohavi, who also toured the systems with Biden said that "the operational cooperation and close coordination between the United States and Israel constitute further proof of the important strategic alliance between the two countries."

"Our relationship with the United States is a significant step in preserving regional stability."

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi

"The strategic relations between the armies are a key pillar in maintaining security stability and in dealing with the common challenges in the Middle East and we strive to create a variety of new opportunities for air, sea and land cooperation,” the chief of staff continued, adding that “our relationship with the United States is a significant step in preserving regional stability, and in the face of the ongoing strategic race with Iran that not only endangers Israel but poses a regional and global danger, the countries of the region are required to act together.”

Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.

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JULY 13, 2022 20:06
Biden's east Jerusalem visit boosts PA claim to city - congressmen The initiative to try and sway Biden not to make an unprecedented visit to the eastern part of the city was spearheaded by Rep. Beth Van Duyne of Texas.  US President Joe Biden waves as he leaves Israel's Ben Gurion Airport, on his way to Jersualem, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022

President Joe Biden's scheduled visit to an east Jerusalem hospital on Friday will boost the Palestinian Authority's claim to that section of the city which is under Israeli sovereignty, six Republican representatives said in a letter they addressed to the White House.

"A visit would be viewed as a continued sign of continued support [for] the Palestinians in their illegitimate efforts to claim east Jerusalem," the six representatives.

The initiative to try and sway Biden not to make an unprecedented visit to the eastern part of the city was spearheaded by Rep. Beth Van Duyne of Texas. 

It was signed by three other Texas Representatives; Randy Weber, Pete Sessions and Ronny Jackson. Representatives Bill Johnson of Ohio and W. Gregory Steube Florida also signed the document.

Biden will be the first US President to visit an east Jerusalem location identified with the Palestinians and it is seen as a nod in the US acceptance of the Palestinian's right to have their capital there.

 US President Joe Biden participates in a welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022 (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Former US president Donald Trump visited also crossed the Green Line during his 2017 visit, but he went to the Jewish holy site of the Western Wall, in a move that preceded his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and his relocation of the US Embassy to that city from Tel Aviv.

The United States Congress recognized Jerusalem as Israel united capital in 1995 when it passed the US Embassy Act.

They recalled that Biden had supported that Act when he was a senator.

"Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state. Israel considers the whole of Jerusalem - including the East, which it occupied in the 1967 Middle East War - as its indivisible capital," the representatives said. 

They recalled that in October 168 House republicans had signed a letter opposing any US moves to reopen the east Jerusalem Consulate General that had served as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians until Trump closed it in 2018. 

Biden has promised to re-open that Consulate but has yet to secure the needed permission from Israel. Friday's visit is seen as s gesture in lieu of that move.

"Israel has a sovereign capital, and just like no other nation has another consulate on its territory, neither should Israel," the representatives said. 

Former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon wrote in an open letter that such a visit would symbolize support for the PA's efforts to divide Jerusalem.

In contrast, the left-wing Israeli NGO B'Tselem pushed Biden to recognize Israel as an apartheid state.

“Mr. President this is apartheid,” stated the Israeli left-wing NGO B’Tselem in a signage campaign it launched hours before Biden arriva.

It has placed large signs of buildings in the two Palestinian cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah.

Biden is a strong proponent of a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and plans to meet separately with Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his three-day trip.

B’Tselem last year, however, issued a report which charged that in reality, there is only one Israeli “apartheid regime” that controls the entire area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Two international NGOs, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued similar reports.

Israel and the United States have rejected all such claims, with US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides calling it “absurd.”

B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad said on Wednesday, “The US must acknowledge that the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is governed by an apartheid regime, and change its attitude to Israel accordingly. When the attitude changes – so will the regime.”

The left-wing NGO Peace Now weighed and call on Biden to relaunched a peace process for a two-state resolution to the conflict. Earlier this week it hung asign in Tel Aviv with an Israeli and a Palestinian flag that stated, “President Biden, welcome to the two countries we love the most."

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JULY 13, 2022 20:04
US, Biden must change course on Iran nuclear policy, Pastor Hagee says Biden "will need to make clear...that he hears concerns on America's weak policy toward Iran and he is going to change course," Pastor John Hagee said. Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and US President Joe Biden attend a briefing on the Israel's Iron Dome and Iron Beam Air Defense Systems at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022

Pastor John Hagee, founder and Chairman of Christians United For Israel (CUFI), said in an interview that President Joe Biden needs to “change course” on his Iran policy.

“We hope that the president has a successful trip to the region, but he will need to make clear to the Israelis and the Arab leaders with whom he is meeting that he hears their concerns on America's weak policy toward Iran and he is going to change course,” he said. “We want him to be very, very firm in his support of Israel and to make it known that it is not possible for the American people to accept the fact that Iran would have a nuclear weapon.”

"We want him to be very, very firm in his support of Israel"

Pastor John Hagee

Next week, CUFI will hold its annual conference in person in Washington for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We're excited about all of our leadership from across the nation coming to the national conference,” he said.

Hagee also denounced the US Presbyterian Church vote to declare Israel an apartheid state and establish a Nakba Remembrance Day, saying it was “an insignificant charge by an insignificant group.” He added that the recent resolutions “are pure antisemitism.”

 US President Joe Biden speaks to IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

The DEFEND Act

Sandra Hagee Parker, Chairwoman of the CUFI Action Fund, said that the 2022 DEFEND Act is at the top of the group’s agenda. If signed into law, the bipartisan bill would authorize the Secretary of Defense to cooperate “with allies and partners in the Middle East–including those who signed the Abraham Accords” to develop and implement “an integrated air and missile defense architecture to defend against Iranian threats.”

“The Abraham Accords has shown the world that peace pays off and it has created pathways for people-to-people exchanges that are necessary for lasting peace,” she said.

“And what this bill does, it underscores that the Abraham Accords are not the end, but the beginning of the efforts for lasting peace and prosperity in the region.”

She said that the DEFEND Act “is vital in bringing America's allies together in the region in order to confront Iran.”

“We have had relationships with these countries independently, but now that they're normalizing with Israel, it's up to us to lead the effort to ensure that everybody is working strategically in terms of missile defense and security cooperation in the region,” said Parker. “The bill assesses the need for improved integrated air and missile defense cooperation between the United States and our Middle Eastern allies and provides an explanation of how this integrated missile defense improves collective security in the region.”

Another item on the agenda is the "COI Elimination Act." Parker that the Comission of Inquiry is "another effort by the United Nations to totally isolate, delegitimize and single out the nation of Israel. And we do welcome the Biden administration statements acknowledging that this latest COI, the effort to investigate Israel, is blatant antisemitism, but statement in and of itself is not enough.”

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JULY 13, 2022 19:07
The when and where of President Joe Biden's visit to Israel Here's US President Joe Biden's schedule during his visit in Israel. Prime Minister Yair Lapid and President Yair Lapid accompany US President Joe Biden shortly after his landing on July 13, 2022

US President Joe Biden landed in Israel on Wednesday afternoon, launching his first official visit to the country as president. Following is Biden's schedule for the visit:

Wednesday

4:20 p.m. - Biden receives a briefing on the Iron Dome and Iron Beam air defense systems at Ben-Gurion Airport

4:50 p.m. - The president departs to Jerusalem

5:25 p.m. - The president arrives at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem

5:35 p.m. - The president participates in a wreath-laying ceremony alongside Prime Minister Yair Lapid and President Isaac Herzog

Thursday

11:15 a.m. - Bilateral meeting between Lapid and Biden followed by a larger meeting including staff members

12:30 p.m. - Biden and Lapid will hold a virtual meeting as part of the I2U2 grouping including leaders from India and the United Arab Emirates

1:30 p.m. - Lapid and Biden will hold a press conference

5:30 p.m. - Lapid and Biden will take part in a ceremony at the Israeli President's Residence

7:50 p.m. - Biden and Lapid will take part in the opening ceremony of the Macabiah games at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem

Friday (Times to be announced)

Biden will visit Augusta Victoria hospital in east Jerusalem and will proceed to visit Bethlehem

Lapid will take part in a small farewell ceremony for Biden as he departs to Saudi Arabia

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JULY 13, 2022 19:07
Biden to sign US-Israel strategic cooperation agreement during visit Israel and the US will sign a strategic cooperation agreement in the field of advanced technologies. It will focus on climate, epidemics, AI and quantum. President Isaac Herzog, US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid participate in a welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022

A strategic cooperation agreement in the field of advanced technologies that will focus on the areas of climate, preparedness for epidemics, artificial intelligence and quantum will be signed between Israel and the US during the Biden visit. 

The National Security Headquarters will coordinate the effort in which the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology and the Health and Environmental Protection Ministries will lead professional work teams in selected fields. 

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and US President Joe Biden made a joint statement regarding the launch of the strategic cooperation agreement. 

What is included in the agreement? 

The ministries will provide the framework for it. Professional teams are expected to start operating in the coming months to promote technological-strategic dialogue that will significantly deepen the strategic partnership in cutting-edge technologies.

 Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and US President Joe Biden attend a briefing on the Israel's Iron Dome and Iron Beam Air Defense Systems at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)

The two governments said the goal of the cooperation is to give expression to the special relationship between the US and Israel, anchor the partnership between the countries and set Israel’s position among America’s leading allies in the field of technology. Their joint commitment to tackling will shape the next decade, they said.

Science and Technology Minister Orit Farkash Hacohen (Blue and White) commented: “I am pleased that the president’s visit will include a statement on his behalf about strengthened technological cooperation between the two governments, after work we have promoted in my ministry and the Environmental Protection Ministry in recent months. Artificial intelligence, quantum, climate, dealing with epidemics, reducing greenhouse gas emissions are among the areas in which we will strengthen the joint work. It is good for the Israeli economy, science and high-tech. Joint working groups from Israel and America will start work immediately.” 

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg added that “Israel and the US share many common values. The two governments see the climate crisis as one of the greatest threats to man, and the fight against it and preparing for it are in our common interest. As part of strengthening technological cooperation with the US – Israel’s closest friend – I am pleased to lead a joint working group that will develop solutions to this global climate crisis challenge.” 

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz concluded: “I welcome the agreement, which will contribute to the realization of the advantage inherent in technological advances and medical innovation for the safety and health of the citizens of both countries. This is significant news that will leverage the scientific power of Israel, the scientific community, local societies and the entire Israeli economy. This is a basis for maintaining Israel’s national resilience. Scientific collaborations by institutions in the two countries will greatly contribute to the advancement of science in Israel and to exposure to unique science infrastructures located in the US.” 

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JULY 13, 2022 18:20
Watch: US President Joe Biden lays wreath at Yad Vashem US President Joe Biden took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem on Wednesday afternoon. US President Joe Biden at Yad Vashem

US President Joe Biden took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem on Wednesday afternoon.

A children's choir sang "A Walk to Caesarea" by Hannah Szenes, a Jewish resistance fighter who was killed in Hungary during World War II.

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JULY 13, 2022 17:50
Highways 1 and 6 reopen to traffic

Highway 1 and Highway 6 reopened to traffic on Wednesday afternoon after US President Joe Biden's convoy arrived at Yad Vashem.

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JULY 13, 2022 17:11
US President Joe Biden shown Israeli air defense systems US President Joe Biden was shown Israeli air defense systems at Ben-Gurion Airport. Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and US President Joe Biden attend a briefing on the Israel's Iron Dome and Iron Beam Air Defense Systems at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022
Video shown to US President Joe Biden about Israeli air defense systems. (Credit: Defense Ministry)

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JULY 13, 2022 16:47
Hamas: Biden's comments 'expose his full embrace of Zionist interests' Palestinian Hamas terrorists attend an anti-Israel rally in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip May 27, 2021

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem condemned statements US President Joe Biden made upon landing in Israel, saying "Biden’s assertion that he is a Zionist at the beginning of his visit to the region exposes his full embrace of Zionist interests."

The terrorist movement added that Biden's comment "confirms the extent of the crime of some parties by coordinating with American efforts to form alliances of which the occupation is a part and reveals the extent of the illusion that the PA leadership is living in on the possibility of benefiting from American positions."

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JULY 13, 2022 16:04
Biden's visit: Not much enthusiasm in Jerusalem for president's trip Rony Eichner: “I don’t think it’s necessary to close all the streets for all the time they’re closing them; maybe for when the president is coming through, and that’s it.” Prime Minister Yair Lapid welcomes US President Joe Biden as he lands for a three-day visit, at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022

Between frustration over his politics and the logistical nightmare his visit is causing, President Joe Biden's arrival in Israel was a divisive topic in Jerusalem on Wednesday. 

The president’s trip has resulted in the closure of several main roads throughout Jerusalem as well as the deployment of 16,000 police officers to protect him. As such, commuters have been forced to take alternate routes to get around the city, adding a significant amount of traffic to their daily commute.

“What has he done for the State of Israel that he thinks he needs to come?”

Anonymous Jerusalemite

A man in his mid-fifties, who wished to remain anonymous, described Biden as a fool and said that many of the people he knows view the president the same way. “What has he done for the State of Israel that he thinks he needs to come?” he asked rhetorically. 

With respect to the road closures and massive police force deployed for the president, the man said that Biden should have “stayed in his basement,” but that the security measures in place for him would be the same for any visiting head of state and are therefore not objectionable. 

Prime Minister Yair Lapid welcomes US President Joe Biden as he lands for a three-day visit, at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)

Biden's visit is "not worth it"

Yehiel, raised in Israel by an American mother, thought differently. “If something gets to the point where it requires 16,000 police officers, it’s not worth it,” he shared. This is especially true for Biden’s visit, according to Yehiel, because the president “is a poser at best. His visit is just for show. I don't think there's much good that he can do for Israel.”  

Rony Eichner, an oleh from Mexico, said he doesn’t really have a position on Biden but that “it’s okay for the president of the United States to come to Israel to have a diplomatic relationship” with America’s ally in the Middle East.

Eichner added that, while he does not believe the president supports Israel, it is crucial for the country to maintain its connection with the US. “It’s important to keep this connection for future problematic situations. The connection allows the two countries to talk to each other, and helps Israel negotiate with other countries.” 

“I don’t like Biden that much, I think he’s very stupid. I think it’s not fair that he’s blocking half of Jerusalem. If someone likes our country, I think it’s fair, [or] if they were coming to do good things here, but not someone who doesn’t like us.”

Jerusalemite

Nevertheless, Eichner viewed the road closures during Biden’s visit as excessive. “I don’t think it’s necessary to close all the streets for all the time they’re closing them; maybe for when the president is coming through, and that’s it,” he said. “I don’t think it’s necessary to close them for the whole day.” 

Ramit, a Jerusalem resident, said he does not believe that Biden is very good or very bad for Israel, but that former president Donald Trump received far more support from Israelis. “Trump was way more popular than Biden [in Israel], from my perspective. Trump speaks much louder about his support for Israel than Biden and takes more action for Israel, like the Abraham Accords.”

Moshe Sametz, another oleh from Mexico, said that although he does not know much about Biden in general nor about the president’s support for Israel, he is frustrated by the itinerary changes he was forced to make as a program counselor. 

“We’re in a program as madrichim (counselors) and we’ve had to change a lot of things from our program because he’s coming to Yad Vashem and other places we were supposed to go,” Sametz said.

Ramit noted that disruptions to city life in Jerusalem are quite frequent which creates issues for locals. “In Jerusalem there’s a feeling that the city closes almost on a weekly basis for some kind of reason so it’s hard for people who stay here to run their lives normally.”

“I don’t like Biden that much, I think he’s very stupid,” another young man bluntly stated. “I think it’s not fair that he’s blocking half of Jerusalem. If someone likes our country, I think it’s fair, [or] if they were coming to do good things here, but not someone who doesn’t like us.”

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JULY 13, 2022 16:03
Biden in Israel: You don't need to be a Jew to be a Zionist The president stressed his "deep and ongoing commitment" to a two-state solution. US president Joe Biden arrives at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on July 13, 2022, for his first official visit to Israel since becoming US president.

"You don't need to be a Jew to be a Zionist," said US President Joe Biden after landing in Israel on Wednesday afternoon, launching his first official visit to the country as president.

Biden mentioned his first visit to Israel as a senator from Delaware in 1973, shortly before the Yom Kippur War broke out, reminiscing on how he was able to spend time with then prime minister Golda Meir.

"I remember that now and I understand that I had the great honor of living part of the history of this country," said the president, adding that this is his tenth visit to Israel.

"As president, I am proud to say that our relationship with the State of Israel is deeper and stronger than ever - and in this visit, we will further strengthen our connection. We will strengthen the connection between Israel and the United States' commitment to Israel's security," added Biden.

"We will create more stability, a better connection, this is critical for all the peoples of the region and that is why we must discuss my deep and ongoing commitment to a two-state solution. This is the best way to ensure equality, freedom, prosperity and democracy for Israelis and Palestinians alike."

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JULY 13, 2022 15:57
Prime Minister Yair Lapid addressed US President Joe Biden "You will see how Israel has grown and developed, see the strength and smartness of the Israeli army creativity of start-up nation diversity of Israeli society."  Prime Minister Yair Lapid welcomes US President Joe Biden as he lands for a three-day visit, at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022

Among the Israeli echelon to greet US President Joe Biden at Ben-Gurion Airport upon his landing was Prime Minister Yair Lapid. 

"This is a historic visit and a deeply personal one," said Lapid. "[It] expresses unbreakable bond between our countries commitment to shared values democracy freedom right of Jewish people to a state. 

"Your relationship with Israel has always been very personal — You once defined yourself as a Zionist," Prime Minister Yair Lapid said. 

"You will see how Israel has grown and developed, see the strength and smartness of the Israeli army creativity of start-up nation diversity of Israeli society." 

Lapid added that Israel will need a "global coalition to stop the Iranian nuclear program."

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JULY 13, 2022 15:53
Herzog to Biden: This is your journey of peace "This trip, Mr. President, is your journey of peace from Israel to Saudi Arabia, from the Holy Land to the Hejaz," said Herzog to Biden. Prime Minister Yair Lapid and President Isaac Herzog welcome US President Joe Biden as he lands for a three-day visit, at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022

Israeli President Isaac Herzog welcomed US President Joe Biden to Israel at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday afternoon, saying that the president's trip is a "journey of peace" and "historical because it expresses the unbreakable bond" between Israel and the US.

"The people of Israel welcome you to the Holy Land with open arms and joyous hearts, as Joseph son of Jacob who sought out his brothers. Here, Mr. President, you are truly amongst family. Like the biblical Joseph, you are both a visionary and a leader, committed to advancing the United States of America, the Middle East, the world at large, and the State of Israel," said Herzog.

"This historic visit reflects the deep partnership our nations share: a partnership rooted in our shared commitment to democracy, justice, and freedom, tolerance, security, and peace," added Herzog.

"In this visit, you will discuss the security challenges emanating directly from Iran and its proxies, threatening Israel and its neighbors and endangering our region. Your first trip here in 1973, was just a few weeks before a terrible war broke out," added the Israeli president. "Today, winds of peace are blowing from North Africa across the Mediterranean to the Gulf. This trip, Mr. President, is your journey of peace from Israel to Saudi Arabia, from the Holy Land to the Hejaz."

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JULY 13, 2022 15:34
Police on their way to Biden stopped to help pregnant woman

A motorcycle police unit on its way to Ben-Gurion Airport to accompany US President Joe Biden stopped on the way after a driver requested help as he was driving with his pregnant wife who had gone into labor.

The police accompanied the woman to the Ma'ayane Yeshua Medical Center where she began giving birth in the parking lot. The officers congratulated the couple and continued on their way to the airport.

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JULY 13, 2022 15:30
US President Joe Biden lands in Israel US President Joe Biden landed at Ben-Gurion Airport in Israel on Wednesday afternoon. US President Joe Biden lands in Israel

US President Joe Biden landed at Ben-Gurion Airport in Israel on Wednesday afternoon, launching his first official visit to the country as president.

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JULY 13, 2022 14:14
US, Israel establish tech dialogue ahead of Biden visit The first meeting of the Strategic High-Level Dialogue on Technology is set to take place in Israel in the coming months. Flags being prepared for US President's Joe Biden's visit to Israel.

Israel and the US established a strategic partnership in advanced technology, the countries announced while US President Joe Biden was en route to Israel on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that the Strategic High-Level Dialogue on Technology “puts Israel at the forefront of global innovation and solidifies its status as a leading technological power.”

“Our vision for one million [Israelis working] in hi-tech begins with international cooperation that will bring new opportunities for the hi-tech sector in Israel,” Lapid added.

The dialogue will be established by the national security advisers, focusing on strategic technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum, solutions to climate change and pandemic preparedness.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger were among 15 officials joining Biden on the two-day trip.

“Our vision for one million [Israelis working] in hi-tech begins with international cooperation that will bring new opportunities for the hi-tech sector in Israel.”

Prime Minister Yair Lapid

 US PRESIDENT Joe Biden has been riding a new wave of populism that will become the central theme in the next decade’s election campaigns across the Western world: disparaging big tech corporations; Yair Lapid at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference.  (credit: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS, LIOR LEV)

The goal

The goal of the joint declaration is to express the special relationship between the US and Israel and position Israel as the leading ally of the US in the field of technology.

The first meeting of the Strategic High-Level Dialogue on Technology is set to take place in Israel in the coming months.

The US has similar partnerships with Great Britain, Australia and Japan in the fields of AI and quantum.

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JULY 13, 2022 14:07
Israeli NGO to Biden: Mr. President this is apartheid Biden is a strong proponent of a two-state resolution to the conflict and plans to meet separately with Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Signs proclaiming Israel to be practising apartheid put up by B'tselem ahead of Biden's visit, July 13,2022

"Mr. President this is apartheid," stated the Israeli left-wing NGO B'Tselem in a signage campaign it launched hours before Biden's anticipated arrival in Israel.

It has placed the large signs off of steep signs and buildings in the two Palestinian cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah.

Biden is a strong proponent of a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and plans to meet separately with Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his three-day trip.

B'Tselem last year, however, issued a report which charged that in reality, there is only one Israeli "apartheid regime" that controls the entire area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Two international NGOs, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued similar reports.

 Signs proclaiming Israel to be practising apartheid put up by B'tselem ahead of Biden's visit, July 13,2022 (credit: B'TSELEM)

Israel and the United States have rejected all such claims, with US Ambassador to Israel calling it "absurd."

B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad said on Wednesday, "The US must acknowledge that the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is governed by an apartheid regime, and change its attitude to Israel accordingly. When the attitude changes – so will the regime.”

The left-wing NGO Peace Now in contrast put up a sign in Tel Aviv with an Israeli and a Palestinian flag that stated, "President Biden, welcome to the two countries we love the most."

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JULY 13, 2022 14:02
Israel to push Biden on trade corridor connecting Israel and Gulf Reportedly, Finance Minister Liberman met with Lapid to ensure that the Middle East trade corridor would be brought up in talks with Biden during his visit. The flags of the U.S., United Arab Emirates, Israel and Bahrain flutter along a road in Netanya

A new highway and railway system throughout Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia could facilitate tens of billions of dollars in trade, according to a special paper prepared by the Finance Ministry ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel.

The “Corridors for Economic Integration” plan

The paper was drafted by Shira Greenberg, the ministry’s Chief Economist, under the direction of Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman. Government officials said that Liberman met in recent days with Prime Minister Yair Lapid to ensure that its main points would be brought up in talks with Biden during his visit to Israel which begins on Wednesday and will end on Friday.

The paper – which was prepared in English so it could be shared with the Biden administration and obtained by The Jerusalem Post – pushes for a new plan called “Corridors for Economic Integration” which would create a regional transportation network including railways and highways linking Israel with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

“By creating a direct connection between the Gulf and the Mediterranean, the network will allow for dramatically shorter shipment times between East and West,” the paper claims. “The project thus has the potential to facilitate trade on both a regional and global level, in addition to enhancing regional economic cooperation.”

The future is already here - at least some of it

Some sections of the network are already in stages of development, according to the paper. In Israel, a railway runs from the port of Haifa to Beit She’an, which is only 10 km from the border with Jordan. In Saudi Arabia, the North-South Railway links the east and center of the country with the north, all the way up to the border with Jordan.

 US President Joe Biden speaks after signing an executive order to help safeguard women's access to abortion and contraception after the Supreme Court last month overturned Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion, at the White House in Washington, US, July 8, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)

In the Gulf, there is a railway under development planned to connect the railways of all Gulf countries, in particular those in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

“By creating a direct connection between the Gulf and the Mediterranean, the network will allow for dramatically shorter shipment times between East and West.”

Finance Ministry

"The missing link"

The distance, the paper said, of the “missing link” between the Saudi-Jordanian border and the crossing between Israel and Jordan where the railway almost reaches is just 200 km.

The network, the paper claims, could facilitate trade between the Gulf, Europe, North Africa and the east coast of the Americas. “The existence of numerous relevant and significant trade flows is expected to provide the project with robust demand – as traders in all relevant countries will seek to take advantage of reduced shipment times and direct access to regional markets,” the paper says.

In the paper, the Finance Ministry calls on the Biden administration to take the reins of the initiative to bring all of the relevant stakeholders together to facilitate its success. It calls on the US to

“While preliminary analyses have shown the project’s potential, a full cost-benefit analysis carried out on behalf of all involved parties by an experienced international partner, could also help the sides decide on the next steps,” it says. “We believe that the current positive atmosphere of regional cooperation will allow us the opportunity to move forward in these regards.”

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JULY 13, 2022 14:01
These are the roads that will be closed during Biden's visit to Israel US President Joe Biden will visit Israel between Wednesday and Friday, and roads will be closed according to his schedule.
By MAARIV ONLINE
US PRESIDENT Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One for a flight to Los Angeles this week. If Biden is coming to the Mideast to criticize and slow Israeli building in Judea and Samaria and greater Jerusalem, pull back, says the writer.

US President Joe Biden will arrive on Wednesday for a presidential visit in Israel that will consist of a packed schedule that includes visits with Prime Minister Yair Lapid, President Isaac Herzog and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

Biden will also visit Yad Vashem and attend the opening ceremony for the Maccabiah Games at Teddy Stadium. Before he leaves for Saudi Arabia, the president is expected to visit the Palestinian Authority, and then a farewell ceremony attended by Lapid will be conducted at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Due to the visit, Israel Police announced that between Wednesday and Friday, traffic obstructions are to be expected on the roads leading to Jerusalem. 

Which roads will be closed?

On Wednesday afternoon, the entrance to Jerusalem will be closed from Ginot Sahrov Junction until Yad Vashem as well as Weizmann Street and Herzl Boulevard until Holland Junction.

 Flags being prepared for US President's Joe Biden's visit to Israel. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Toward the end of Biden's visit to Yad Vashem, Holland Junction and Shmuel Bait Street will be closed in both directions as well as the entry to Smuel Bait from Begin Boulevard.

Other roads that will be closed are Bazak-Herzog, Aza and Keren Hayesod, as well as around Paris Square. Since Biden is staying at the King David Hotel, King David Street will be closed for the duration of the president's visit.

On Thursday, King David Junction and Jabotinsky Street, Paris Square and Hillel Junction will be closed in the morning and afternoon. In the evening, King David, Keren Hayesod, Aza, Herzog and Golomb streets will be closed.

From Friday morning, Yitzhak Kariv, Agron, King Solomon, Heil Ha'Handasa, Chaim Bar-Lev and Yitzhak Ha'Nadiv streets, as well as University and Paratroopers boulevards will be closed.  Later in the morning, Hativat Jerusalem and Derech Hebron will also be closed.

Other preparations

Throughout the visit, over 16,000 police officers, Border Police officers and volunteers will be stationed in order to keep the public peace.

At the same time, the Defense Ministry announced that it has completed its preparations for Biden's landing. 

Hundreds of journalists, invitees, an 85-meter-long red carpet and hundreds of flags will await the president when he lands at Ben Gurion.

In the space where the welcoming ceremony is to be held, a tribune with 150 seats and podiums for journalists and photographers has been set up as well as a tent for the journalists.

The Airports Authority issued a recommendation for passengers to arrive at Ben Gurion via train only after 1 p.m. on Wednesday. It also announced that all flights, both national and international, will be arriving in Terminal 3 until Friday afternoon. Outgoing international flights will be returned to Terminal 1 in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The Jerusalem Municipality announced that during Biden's visit, changes will be made to train and bus schedules, and parking regulations.

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JULY 13, 2022 14:01
Israel, US to declare ‘strategic partnership’ during Biden visit The agreement includes a joint stance against Iran’s nuclear program and regional aggression to ensure Iran never attains a nuclear weapon. Israeli and US flags are rolled up before being set up, as part of preparations for US President Joe Biden's visit later this week, in Jerusalem, July 10, 2022.

The Jerusalem Declaration of the US-Israel Strategic Partnership will be a centerpiece of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel on Wednesday through Friday.

The agreement includes a joint stance against Iran’s nuclear program and regional aggression, with both countries saying they will use “all elements of national power” to ensure Iran never attains a nuclear weapon.

In addition, President Biden will reaffirm his commitment to Israel’s security, including its qualitative military edge and ability to defend itself by itself.

Helping Israel defend itself

The declaration states the US plans to follow up on the 10-year $38 billion Memorandum of Understanding on military aid signed with Israel, addressing emerging threats and new developments in the region.

 US President Joe Biden speaks about his economic agenda, during his visit to Cleveland, Ohio, US, July 6, 2022 (credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

Iran is at the top of Israel’s agenda for bilateral meetings with the Americans at all levels, including Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s meeting with Biden, a senior Israeli official said.

“Iran is continuing to violate its obligations and continues to deceive the international community,” the official said.

“Things published in recent weeks – and even just yesterday – statements by our American counterparts, reflected that,” referring to a remark by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan that Iran plans to provide Russia with hundreds of drones.

“Iran is continuing to violate its obligations and continues to deceive the international community"

Israeli official

When it comes to indirect negotiations between Iran and the US on the latter’s nuclear program, “Iran is playing for time,” the official added. “As long as Iran believes time is on its side, it will not give in or make any concessions. Time has run out [on the 2015 Iran deal], and it is crucial to exert pressure on Iran.”

Collaboration with the Biden administration on the Iran front is “very strong,” and Israel is grateful for it, the official stated, expressing hope that work on a joint strategy will be taken “to the next level” during Biden’s visit.

Why issue the Jerusalem Declaration?

The Jerusalem Declaration will be “a living testimony to the unique quality, depth and scope of the US-Israel relationship,” an Israeli diplomatic source said on Tuesday. “It expresses the warmth and profound commitment to the relationship on both sides, specifically [the US commitment] to Israel’s security, prosperity and wellbeing.”

The full text of the declaration was not released to the public.

The document also recognizes the “regional architecture” of cooperation between Israel and Arab states in recent months with US involvement.

“It is basically saying the US is very much committed to working with Israel and our partners and friends to try to transform the region,” the source said.

Where is Saudia Arabia in all of this?

Biden is expected to announce an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel that would allow the former to regain control of two islands in the Straits of Tiran, with Israel agreeing to change security arrangements stipulated in its peace treaty with Egypt that included an international military force on those islands.

The security arrangements for Israel will be moved onto what will remain Egyptian land. Saudi Arabia is expected to allow Israeli commercial flights in its airspace, as well as limited direct flights from Israel for Muslims making the pilgrimage to Mecca.

The president plans to fly directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia, which “encapsulates a lot of the dynamics evolving over the last months,” the Israeli official said. “In a few days it will be out in the open. We hope the steps taken now are only the beginning, and will be the start of a process of normalization between the countries.”

In addition, Jerusalem praised the rapprochement between Washington and Riyadh signified by Biden’s visit.

Israel also hopes to accelerate efforts to participate in the US visa waiver program during Biden’s visit, though progress on that front faced domestic political obstacles in Israel.

Biden is expected to arrive in Israel on Wednesday afternoon for his 10th visit to the country, his first as president.

The visit will begin with a Defense Ministry presentation at Ben-Gurion Airport, in which Defense Minister Benny Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and others will brief the president and display a “multi-tiered air defense array” including the Iron Dome and the Iron Beam laser-based missile defense system, still in development.

After that, Biden will meet with two American-Israeli Holocaust survivors at Yad Vashem.

The next day, the president will hold a lengthy meeting with Lapid, followed by a news conference.

President Isaac Herzog will then hold a reception for Biden, at which he will present the US president with a medal of honor. Cabinet ministers will be in attendance at the President’s Residence.

Biden will go to the Maccabiah Games with Lapid.

He is not scheduled to have dinner with Lapid on either day of his trip, which is unusual for presidential visits.

Biden plans to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Friday, as well as to visit Augusta Victoria, a Palestinian hospital in east Jerusalem, where he will announce that the US is restoring aid to Palestinian hospitals in the city.

The Biden administration declined to allow Israeli officials to accompany the president in eastern Jerusalem, signaling that they do not recognize that part of the city as Israeli.

Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-TX) began to circulate a petition calling on Biden to cancel the hospital visit, writing that it would “reward the Palestinian Authority, which continues to support terrorist activities, terrorist attacks, and violence against Israeli citizens on the Temple Mount. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which you supported as a senator, affirms the United States’ policy of preserving Jerusalem as a united city while upholding freedom of religion and equal rights for all religious and ethnic groups.”

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Important facts

  • Biden will be in Israel until Friday.
  • He will meet with both Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
  • Ahead of the visit, the US and Israel announced the establishment of a tech dialogue between the countries.