Ahead of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Israel this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the visit is a testament to the strong ties between the two countries.
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"There have been those who have already predicted the collapse of this relationship – but that is not the case," Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
"The ties are strong at all levels, and also with regards to the challenges that we share in our region. I will of course discuss this with the vice president during his visit," the prime minister added.
Biden left on a five-day trip to the Middle East late Saturday, and is set to visit the United Arab Emirates, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. However, a White House official said on Friday that no major breakthroughs on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are expected during Biden's visit. Instead, he would focus on increasing cooperation on a number of issues, including the fight against the Islamic State and the Syrian conflict.
Biden's visit comes against the backdrop of the stilted negotiations over the defense package the U.S. is set to give Israel for the next decade. The sides are still in disagreement over the size of the annual sum the U.S. will give Israel. Netanyahu initiated Biden's visit, in the hopes that the vice president will help convince Obama to enlarge the scope of the defense package.
In the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu also discussed Israel's ties with other countries, saying that "every week there's a president or a minister, or a prime minister or a foreign minister, or other ministers from countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America – from the whole world." The prime minister added that these visit show that Israel is an asset in the fight against radical Islam and the desirability of its hi-tech industry.