US President Joe Biden plans to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia next month, the White House confirmed to Axios yesterday.
Three Israeli officials have confirmed the report and said that Biden is expected to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority on 14-15 July before traveling to Saudi Arabia. The White House, however, has not confirmed the dates, and the Israeli officials all warned that they had shifted several times and could change again.
Biden is expected to meet Israeli officials including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog. Axios gave no detail about the issues that could be raised during their meeting, although expanding the so-called Abraham Accords is likely to be high on the agenda.
It’s also not clear if Biden will raise the allegations by major human rights organisations of Israeli apartheid; the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh by an Israeli soldier; and the expansion of illegal settlements for Jewish settlers. According to Haaretz, the Biden administration may consider reversing the decision of former US President Donald Trump to disregard the illegality of Israeli settlements, but it did not say if this issue will be raised during his visit to the apartheid state.
The US president is also expected to visit Israeli-occupied Bethlehem, where a plan has been revived by the occupation state to build new illegal settlements. Biden will also meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, presumably in Ramallah.
All eyes will be on Biden during what will be his very first meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The US president has called the 36-year-old a “pariah” and authorised the release of a report implicating the de facto ruler of the Kingdom in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“The trip comes in the context of a significant agenda with Saudi Arabia, Israel and the other countries of the Middle East,” explained a White House National Security Council spokesperson. “That agenda is focused on delivering results for the American people as well as ending wars and leading through diplomacy to bring stability to the Middle East region.”