The occupying state raised 1,000 flags throughout Jerusalem to welcome the US president, who has yet to overturn former president Donald Trump’s contentious recognition of the city as the Israel’s capital.
President Joe Biden landed onboard Air Force One in Tel Aviv on Wednesday afternoon, marking his first-ever official visit to the region as the leader of the United States.
On the tarmac, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid welcomed Biden, whom he described as “a great Zionist” and friend of the occupying state.
“During your visit we will discuss matters of national security. We will discuss a new security architecture with the nations of the Middle East following the Abraham Accords and we will discuss the need to renew a global coalition that will stop the Iranian nuclear programme,” Lapid added.
Biden followed with a speech on the red carpet, in which he expressed his pride in visiting “an independent Jewish state of Israel”.
“The fact is, you need not be a Jew to be a Zionist,” Biden echoed.
“We will continue to advance Israel’s integration into the region.. Greater peace, greater stability is critical for all of the people of the region,” he added.
Shortly after Biden’s landing, Israel’s military is scheduled to present to him its new Iron Beam system, an anti-drone laser it claims is essential for halting Iran’s fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles.
The occupying state has raised 1,000 flags throughout Jerusalem to welcome the US president, who has yet to overturn former president Donald Trump’s contentious recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.
During his visit, Biden will also be meeting the President of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday in a bid to restart talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Meanwhile, relations between the US and Palestinians have recently further deteriorated following the killing of veteran Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed in May while reporting on an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank.
The Palestinian-American national was killed by Israeli fire, according to the UN. The Washington said while this is likely, it found “no proof” that the death was intentional.
The family of Abu Akleh has expressed “outrage” over the “abject response” of the Biden administration to her killing, and demanded a meeting with the president while on his visit in Jerusalem,
The White House has yet to respond to this request.
Biden is scheduled to head off to Saudi Arabia on Friday onboard a direct flight to the kingdom. The ‘unprecedented’ itinerary is designed to reflect warming relations between Israel and the governments of its Arab neighbours in general, despite opposition from Palestinian factions as well as opinions on the Arab street.
While countries like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco made shockwaves after signing the Abraham Accords in 2020 to normalise relations with Israel under the former President Donald Trump administration, Saudi Arabia has not yet announced such plans.
However, more gradual steps are expected to be made, such as permitting Israeli commercial flights access to the kingdom’s airspace.