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Israel: outgoing president visiting the White House

Israel's president Reuven Rivlin in Berlin on March 16, 2021 [JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images]
Israel's president Reuven Rivlin in Berlin on March 16, 2021 [JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images]

Outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is scheduled to meet with US President Joe Biden in the White House today. This will be the first meeting between Biden and an Israeli leader since his inauguration in January.

"President Rivlin's visit will highlight the enduring partnership between the United States and Israel and the deep ties between our governments and our people," said the White House.

Rivlin landed in New York yesterday and met with executives of major Jewish organisations in Manhattan along with Israel's Ambassador to the US and UN, Gilad Erdan.

According to Haaretz, Rivlin plans to thank Biden for his diplomatic and military support for Israel during the recent military offensive against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. This is being spun as a "conflict with Hamas." He will also thank the strongly Zionist Biden for his personal involvement in such support, as well as Washington's commitment to Israel's general security.

The US gives Israel $3.8 billion a year in military aid, equivalent to 20 per cent of the occupation state's defence budget. The sum amounts to nearly three-fifths of US foreign military aid globally.

READ: Israel president and chief of staff visit Europe to lobby against ICC

"I am departing, for the last time as president and on behalf of the State of Israel, on a farewell visit to Israel's closest ally and friend in the world: the United States of America," Rivlin told reporters before taking off from Ben Gurion International Airport. "On my visit I will meet President Joe Biden, a true friend of the State of Israel for many years and I will thank him for his genuine concern for Israel's security and its citizens. I will also hold meetings at the UN to discuss regional issues on our agenda and meet the American Jewish community which is so dear to our hearts."

Rivlin's seven-year term as president is due to end on 7 July. The White House said that his visit "will honour the dedication he has shown to strengthening the friendship between the two countries over the course of many years."

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