Live Updates: Biden Backs Two-state Solution Where 'Both Peoples Enjoy Equal Measures of Freedom'

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U.S. President Joe Biden gives his remarks following a meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem, on Thursday.
U.S. President Joe Biden gives his remarks following a meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem, on Thursday.Credit: Maya Alleruzzo/Pool via REUTERS
Updates
Ido Rakovsky

With Biden present, Maccabiah opening ceremony married by power cut

The opening ceremony for the 21st Maccabiah Games – an international Jewish sports competition drawing thousands of attendees from across the globe – was interrupted by an hour-long power cut in the presence of U.S. President Joe Biden.

After the British delegation entered Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, the lights suddenly stopped working, drawing the opening ceremony to a close for almost an hour. This month, about half of the stadium's floodlights and its two screens are not operating as usual.

The organizers of the Maccabiah Games anticipate about 30,000 spectators, a third of which are competitors, from 59 different countries.

Yaniv Kubovich

Israeli officials present intel on Iran's nuclear progress, push further weapons sales to Arab states

Israel's defense establishment presented intelligence on Iran's nuclear enrichment to U.S. President Joe Biden's entourage in the last two days, in a bid to ramp up pressure on the U.S. amid ongoing negotiations with Tehran to strike a nuclear agreement.

On top of this, Israeli security officials are looking to expand its air defense alliance with Arab states, especially ahead of the president's visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday.

The officials are also encouraging Biden to facilitate further cooperation and weapons sales to Gulf states, including Israel's laser defense system. In this push, Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz "also showed Mr. Biden a list of security agreements Israel has with countries in the region, including some that were recently signed with Arab countries not party to the Abraham Accords and haven’t been publicly disclosed, the person familiar with the matter said," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Allison Kaplan Sommer

‘Israelis are furious’: Netanyahu loyalists attack Biden over East Jerusalem visit

Israeli right-wing politicians, pundits and activists, some of them with ties to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, have blasted U.S. President Joe Biden over his plan to visit a hospital in East Jerusalem on Friday without any Israeli officials alongside him.

When Biden landed in Israel on Wednesday afternoon, one of the many Israeli politicians waiting there to greet him was Netanyahu, who even received a rare and warm handshake from the U.S. president.

Read the full story here.

Ben Samuels

After brief meeting, Netanyahu says Biden agrees military option against Iran must be on the table

Leader of the opposition Benjamin Netanyahu says that U.S. President Joe Biden concurred that a military option against Iran must be prepared amidst Tehran's continuing enrichment of uranium, after the two held a 20-minute rendezvous in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu said he thanked Biden for the "deep personal friendship between us and above all for his truly firm commitment to Israel," amid the U.S. president's whirlwind tour of the country.

Credit: GPO

The former prime minister, however, reiterated that economic sanctions and the defensive alliance between Israel and friendly Arab states are "not enough" to combat the threat posed by Tehran, noting a "credible offensive military option" must be on the table.

"He said that he agrees," Netanyahu said of the U.S. president, "and I was happy to hear that. In any case, this is what I will if and when I return to the prime minister's office."

The White House also issued a statement about the meeting: "As is traditional for U.S. leaders, President Biden is meeting with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu. The two have worked together going back many years. This meeting highlights the unbreakable relationship between the U.S. and Israel."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides accompanied the president to the meeting, while Netanyahu's delegation included his chief of staff Tzachi Braverman, his media chief Topaz Luk, and Israel's former ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer.

Jonathan Lis

Biden given Israel's presidential medal of honor by Herzog

U.S. President Joe Biden was granted the Israeli presidential of honor on Thursday, after visiting his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog at his residence.

In the ceremony, Israel's President Issac Herzog also presented Biden with minutes from his meeting with former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir from country's National Archives, in which he praised the "miracle" of the State of Israel. "As long as the U.S. exists, Israel will never be alone," Biden had said in the meeting.

The U.S. president, in his whistle-stop tour of Israel, was greeted by Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal at their home in Jerusalem. The three walked down a red carpet to the greeting of the Israeli honor guard, and children holding Israeli and American flags.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli President Isaac Herzog pose for photos with children waving the two countries' flags in Jerusalem.Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Upon entering the residence in the Talbiya neighborhood, Biden signed the guestbook: "Bougie, my friend, thank you for all you and your family have done to deepen the ironclad bond between our two great countries. From our shared Irish roots to our shared love of Israel, we are united in heart and spirit. May our friendship endure and continue to grow! That is the Irish of it, as my grandfather Finnegan would say. God bless you. Joe. 7.14.22."

Reuters

U.S. says Saudi to permit Israeli flights to pass airspace, Muslims to fly directly for pilgrimage

Saudi Arabia will soon allow unfettered overflight to Israeli airlines and permit direct charter flights from Israel for Muslims participating in the annual hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, a U.S. official told Reuters.

The announcement is expected to come during U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia later this week, the official said. Biden has made it a focus to integrate Israel into the broader Gulf region, particularly with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia did begin allowing Israeli airlines to fly over its territory in a special air corridor for flights to and from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, after the signing of the Abraham Accords that normalized diplomatic relations between Israel and those two nations.

But Israel has yet to receive such access for flights to and from Asia, including China and India.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid was asked on Thursday at a joint news conference with Biden whether Saudi Arabia would approve the use of the air space, he said that it was Biden's announcement to make.

Biden replied, "I'm optimistic."

The Saudi government did not respond to requests for comment.

Uri Sirkis, CEO of Israir, told Tel Aviv radio station 103FM on the prospective expansion of the Saudi corridor: "The eastbound route will be shortened by two hours on average. It will be a new era that will bring Asia closer to Israel."

Israel's regional cooperation minister last week asked Saudi Arabia to admit direct flights from Tel Aviv for Muslim pilgrims, a minority in Israel.

Reuters

Iran's president threatens 'harsh' response to U.S., allies amid Biden tour

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Thursday that the Islamic Republic will have a "harsh and regrettable response" to any "mistake" committed by Washington or its allies.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid signed a joint pledge on Thursday to deny Iran nuclear arms, a show of unity by allies long divided over diplomacy with Tehran.

"The great nation of Iran will not accept any insecurity or crisis in the region and Washington and its allies should know that any mistake will be met by a harsh and regrettable response from Iran," Raisi said during a speech.

Washington and Israel have long expressed concerns over Iran's nuclear capabilities. Iran insists it never had any ambition to make a nuclear bomb.

Ben Samuels

In Jerusalem, Biden backs lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace where 'both peoples enjoy equal measures of freedom'

President Joe Biden reiterated on Thursday that the U.S. is committed to the two-state solution, shortly after signing a far-reaching agreement with Israel that only made cursory mention of the Palestinian issue.

"We'll also continue to work toward a lasting negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinian people," Biden noted, stressing that "Israel must remain an independent democratic and Jewish state. The ultimate guarantee and guarantor of the Jewish people, not only in Israel but the entire world. I believe that to my core," the president said.
"The best way to achieve that, remains a two-state solution for two peoples, both of whom have deep and ancient roots in this land living side-by-side in peace and security, both states fully respecting the equal rights of their citizens."

In Jerusalem, the U.S. president also tackled the issue of antisemitism. "The scourge of antisemitism still marches around the world. We must never forget the horrors to which an unchecked hatred can lead. That's why I wanted to visit Yad Vashem when I landed, to bear witness and remember and renew our vow of 'never again.'"

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Lapid asks Biden to pass 'message of peace' to Arab countries during Saudi Arabia trip

Prime Minister Yair Lapid asked U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday to pass 'a message of peace' on to Arab countries during his Saudi Arabia trip.

Lapid spoke after the two leaders signed an agreement for a strategic alliance in which the U.S. affirmed its commitment to Israel's security. Biden will be flying to Saudi Arabia directly after his visit to Israel.

Lapid asked the U.S. president to relay a message of peace to countries in the region "including the Palestinians," adding that "Israel wants peace and believes in peace," Lapid said, adding: "We will never give up once centimeter of our safety… but to any nation that wants peace and normalized ties with us, we say: Shalom, welcome."

Yaniv Kubovich

United States Central Command chief Lt. Gen Michael Kurilla to visit Israel to improve regional military coordination

Following the visit of U.S. President Biden, the chief of the U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, Lt. Gen Michael Kurilla, is expected to participate in a series of visits to Israel for the purpose of strengthening aerial defense coordination between the U.S., Israel and Gulf states.

Kurilla will meet with senior officials in the Israeli defense establishment, and together with other countries in the so-called "Middle East Air Defense Alliance," will work to improve defenses against Iran and its proxies in the region.

The parties involved will also work to improve naval coordination and the transfer of intelligence with the aim of thwarting Iranian attacks.

Ben Samuels

Iran, Mideast integration, BDS: Here is what Biden considers key to the U.S.-Israel alliance

U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Yair Lapid will sign a landmark strategic declaration on Thursday pertaining to the U.S.-Israel alliance, detailing America's commitment to Israel's security, regional integration and combatting antisemitism. It also makes a cursory reference to a two-state solution. It fails to mention Russia in the context of Ukraine and firmly rejects the BDS movement.

Read the full story here

Jonathan Lis

In Jerusalem, Biden asks for Israeli update on new Palestinian measures

U.S. President Joe Biden asked Thursday Israel to update the U.S. regarding any measures intended to be taken with the Palestinian Authority, so that the Biden administration is not be surprised by them.

In private, Prime Minister Lapid and Biden discussed Israel-Saudi Arabia ties, however the details remain classified. When the delegations joined, the teams also discussed the war in Ukraine and Israel's humanitarian aid to Kyiv.

Ben Samuels

Biden, Lapid meet in Jerusalem

U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid met on Thursday as the Biden's Mideast trip entered its second day. The two were scheduled to discuss U.S. support for Israel's security, countering Iran, the war in Ukraine and how to preserve prospects for a two-state solution.

At the end of the meeting, Biden said, "I think the vast majority of the American public, not just my administration, is completely devoted to Israel's security."

Lapid said they discussed the American president's trip to Saudi Arabia, "which is extremely important to Israel" and "a moderate coalition." In addition, Lapid said the two leaders "discussed the Iranian threat."

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Biden on way to meeting with Lapid

U.S. President Joe Biden and his entourage are on their way in Jerusalem, where the president is due to meet with Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Iran's Supreme Leader Will Determine if Biden's Mideast Trip Succeeds | Analysis

It may be tempting to dismiss U.S. President Joe Biden's trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia as a non-important visit by a weak and unpopular leader whose chances of being reelected are close to zero. But even with popular opinion at a low point, the man in the White House controls the foreign and defense policy of the strongest superpower in the world and enjoys broad freedom in managing ties with America's friends and foes.

A statement by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on a counter-visit he'll embark on to Tehran instantly upgraded Biden's tour, revealing extremely important strategic content behind all the ceremonies, celebratory statements, jokes and personal gestures with the hosts – which the guest of honor particularly excels in.

Read the full analysis here

Ben Samuels

'They're making a mistake': Biden rejects progressive Democrats' criticism of Israel

U.S. President Joe Biden rejected criticisms of Israel from progressive U.S. lawmakers, insisting that they do not represent a growing divide within the Democratic Party.

"There are few of them. I think they're wrong. I think they're making a mistake. Israel is a democracy. Israel is our ally. Israel is a friend and I make no apologies," Biden told Israel's Channel 12 news in an interview taped before his visit to Israel.

Read the full story here

Day 2 of Biden's Visit: Strategic U.S.-Israel Cooperation, Talks With UAE, Indian Leaders

U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with senior Israeli officials on Thursday, the second day of his whirlwind four-day visit to the Middle East, where he will drive home his explicitly stated goals of stressing the endurance of U.S.-Israel relations and strengthening Israeli regional ties.

Biden will start the day by holding a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Yair Lapid at Jerusalem's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. A senior U.S. official said the two will discuss U.S. support for Israel's security, countering Iran, the war in Ukraine and how to preserve prospects for a two-state solution.

Click here to read the full story.

Jack Khoury

Abbas, Biden Fail to Bridge Differences, Will Make Separate Statements in West Bank Visit

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. President Joe Biden will give separate statements in Bethlehem on Friday, after their representatives were unable to agree on the wording of a summary statement, Palestinian sources said.

Ramallah closely followed Biden’s speech upon landing on Wednesday at Ben-Gurion International Airport, in which he briefly mentioned the two-state solution. Palestinian minister and member of the PLO Executive Committee, Ahmad Majdalani, said that Biden’s words are meaningless as long as there are no practical steps to implement the two-state solution on the ground.

Click here to read the full story.

Noa Landau

Nine Words Biden Uttered at Tel Aviv Airport Reveal His Policy on Israel-Palestine | Analysis

Over the years, welcoming ceremonies in Israel for American presidents usually include several motifs that are repeated, irrespective of who the hosts or guests are. Among such motifs – which are really akin to the red carpet and the playing of the American and Israeli national anthems – there is regular mention in the speeches of the “unbreakable” bond between the countries and the Bible and the Holocaust as well as technology and defense. But beyond that, they always feature the aspiration for peace, whether genuine or not.

Whether the visiting U.S. president is Barack Obama or Donald Trump, the word peace has always been generously sprinkled into the speeches, even when there was no doubt that it involved an empty gesture, a fig leaf. But at Wednesday’s welcoming ceremony at Ben-Gurion International Airport for President Joe Biden, despair and weariness were more in evidence than ever before.

Click here to read the full analysis.

Amir Tibon

Biden's Boring First Day Was Just What Israel Needed | Analysis

When Joe Biden landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday afternoon, the media in both Israel and the U.S. was trying hard to create a sense of drama around the four-day Middle Eastern trip he was about to kick off. On CNN, a chyron described it as “controversial,” a reference to the Saudi Arabia portion of it, which will only start on Friday. In Israel, expert panels on television debated the gestures he exchanged with Prime Minister Yair Lapid and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu for hours, as if they contain some hidden truths about his preference in the upcoming Israeli election.

The attempt to create some excitement around the visit is understandable – but bound to fail. Biden is the third U.S. president to visit Israel since 2013, and his visit is undeniably the most boring of them all. That’s not a criticism of Biden, however. In fact, the opposite is true – it’s a compliment. The uneventful and uncontroversial first day of his visit, which included fist bumps and handshakes at the airport, an exhibition of Israeli defense systems and a trip to Yad Vashem, represents a good kind of boring, which had been missing from the U.S.-Israel relationship under Biden’s two predecessors.

Click here to read the full analysis.

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.

The New Mideast Strategic Alliance Worries Iran and Russia | Analysis

A day before U.S. President Joe Biden was slated to land in Israel, Russia announced that its own president, Vladimir Putin, will hold a summit next week with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The timing of this statement was not accidental.

On Friday Biden is slated to go to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on the Red Sea coast, for another summit to be attended by the leaders of Gulf States Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. This meeting is intended to lay the cornerstone for regional defense cooperation against common threats to the alliance’s members.

Iran needs no explainer to conclude that this an Israeli-American initiative aimed at mobilizing Iran’s neighbors in a joint front against it. But a rational analysis of the real threat this alliance would pose to Iran could show that the Islamic Republic doesn’t have much to fear.

Click here to read the full analysis.

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