Biden, Lapid Declare Strategic Tech, Climate Change Cooperation

U.S. and Israeli officials will meet annually to discuss issues including pandemic preparedness, climate change, implementation of artificial intelligence and trusted technology ecosystems

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President Joe Biden returns a salute as he boards Air Force One for a trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, at Maryland's Andrews Air Force Base, U.S.
President Joe Biden returns a salute as he boards Air Force One for a trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, at Maryland's Andrews Air Force Base, U.S.Credit: Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP

U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid will formally launch Wednesday a new strategic high-level dialogue on technology, tasked with taking on global challenges and emerging technologies.

The initiative will focus on issues including pandemic preparedness, climate change, implementation of artificial intelligence and trusted technology ecosystems, according to a joint statement from the U.S. and Israeli leaders.

The new partnership will convene annually, alternating between the United States and Israel, with the first meeting set to occur in Israel this fall, where they will discuss advancing specific projects.

One of the U.S. collaborators, Anne Neuberger – Biden’s deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology – is accompanying the president on his trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia this week.

The venture will explore cooperative tech R&D ventures related to pandemic preparedness, including “technology for disease surveillance and early warning, and for rapid medical countermeasure responses.”

The two countries will also collaborate on technology aimed at addressing climate change, including “cooperative R&D ventures and/or deploying technologies to drive equitable climate solutions (e.g., water reuse, solid waste management, clean and renewable energy),” according to the press statement.

They will also address challenges relating to trustworthy AI, such as “large scale planning, implementation and logistical challenges through multidimensional optimization by means of cutting-edge AI in the fields of transportation, medicine and agriculture.”

According to the statement, this includes “discussing evaluation and measurement tools for trustworthy AI, and for risk management and privacy-enhancing technologies.”

Israel and the United States will also “exchange information and seek to increase coordination on policies on risk management” in innovation ecosystems, “including research security, investment screening and export controls, as well as on technology investment and protection strategies for critical and emerging technologies.”

Wednesday’s announcement is one of several expected from Biden and Lapid during the president’s 48-hour trip. The two leaders are also expected to release a landmark strategic statement on the U.S.-Israeli partnership stressing America’s commitment to ensuring Israel’s security.

A formerly sunken boat sits upright into the air with its stern stuck in the mud along the shoreline of Lake Mead near Boulder City, Nevada, last month. Lake Mead water has dropped to levels it hasn't been since the lake initially filled over 80 years ago.Credit: John Locher/AP

The technology announcement comes against the backdrop of a year of tensions between Israel and the White House over Israel’s cyberoffense market. The U.S. Department of Commerce blacklisted two Israeli cyberfirms last November, including NSO Group, after it was discovered that one of NSO’s state clients used its Pegasus spyware to hack the phones of U.S. State Department officials in Africa.

Haaretz reported last month, together with The Washington Post and The Guardian, that NSO was in talks to be sold to U.S. defense contractor L3Harris Technologies, a move that would have seen NSO removed in some form from the blacklist. The White House responded by saying it opposed any such deal, calling the sale a potential “counterintelligence” threat.

On Monday, Uri Blau published an investigation in ProPublica together with Israeli NGO Shomrim, about NSO’s lobbying efforts in the United States. The report claimed that NSO was working to have the issue raised by Lapid with he meets with Biden on Thursday. Industry insiders voiced skepticism at the chances of such a conversation taking place.

Amid U.S. anger over NSO, last year Israel reportedly curtailed the number of countries its cyberoffense firms can sell their wares to: from over 70 to fewer than 40, all of them in the West.

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