Biden Team in Israel to Prepare President's Visit This Summer

While no final date has been set for Biden's first visit since assuming office, sources say Israel and possibly the West Bank may be added as a stop on his Europe trip in late June

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House, August 2021.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House in August.Credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFP

A U.S. administration team arrived in Israel on Sunday to prepare for President Joe Biden's visit this summer, which may also include meetings in the West Bank.

While plans for the visit are not yet final, sources familiar with Biden's international travel plans say that he is likely to come to Israel for the first time as president near the end of June.

U.S. officials in Israel met with their Israeli counterparts to discuss the potential agenda and schedule.

Biden is likely to add Israel as a stop in his Europe trip, either before a G7 meeting in Germany on June 26-28 or after a NATO summit in Spain on June 29-30.

This would also be President Biden's first visit to the Middle East since assuming office.

U.S. officials also called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' office on Thursday to plan a possible visit to Ramallah, too, during the trip.

Expectations from a Biden meeting with Abbas are low. Discourse is expected to revolve around the need to advance a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

"If until now we haven't been able to get the American consulate in East Jerusalem to open because of an Israeli veto, then what can we expect," a senior Palestinian official told Haaretz. "On top of that, Bennett's term is unstable, Biden and his administration are busy with Ukraine and you also have midterms in the U.S."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the region twice, once last year, during a round of violence between Israel and Gaza factions, and another time in March.

In Israel, the U.S. president is expected to meet with President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and use the visit to highlight his close ties to Israel and its importance as a U.S. ally.

Biden informed Bennett of his intention to visit Israel soon in a phone call last week, where the two leaders also touched on Iran and steps Israel is taking to quell Jerusalem violence, according to an Israeli statement.

The two leaders discussed Iran's demand that the U.S. delist the Revolutionary Guards from the country's list of designated terrorist organizations, which Israel has strongly opposes.

The removal of the Revolutionary Guards Corps from the U.S. blacklist is one of the outstanding issues remaining in the talks over a new Iranian nuclear deal.

"Israel has clarified its position on the issue," Bennett said, according to the statement, "The Revolutionary Guards are the largest terrorist organization in the world.

"I am sure that President Biden, a true friend of Israel who cares about its security, will not allow the Revolutionary Guards to be removed" from the list, he said.

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