JERUSALEM, Israel – This week, President Joe Biden will visit Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia from July 13-16. The trip comes at a time of political instability in Israel and dangerous times in the Middle East.
President Biden is scheduled to land in Israel Wednesday for a two-day trip before jetting off to the Saudi kingdom. Former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren sees Iran as a central issue for both the US and Israel.
“It’s about calming us down on the Iran issue. I don’t think the administration is very keen for us to take actual operations against Iran on a large scale,” Oren told CBN News.
Oren believes the US wants to avoid a Mideast war while Israel needs to know if America will have its back in case it has to go to war to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
“What will be America’s position if Iran breaks out and creates a nuclear weapon? What will be America’s position if Israel has to defend itself. And if large-scale fighting does break out — not just with Iran but between Israel and Hezbollah, Israel and Hamas, Shiite militias in Iraq, the Houthis rebels in Yemen — what’s America going to do? We often rely on the United States during these battles, both for ammunition and for diplomatic support, what I call the ‘Diplomatic Iron Dome,’” said Oren.
President Biden is also scheduled to meet Palestinians at a hospital in East Jerusalem. It would mark the first time a US president plans to visit East Jerusalem, and it sends the wrong signal to many Israelis.
“It signifies that the United States still recognizes East Jerusalem as a future capital of a Palestinian State. And that, in fact, is official American policy. It’s not as if he’s inventing policy. That is their policy. The question is do you want to accept that policy. Do you want to emphasize that policy in the middle of an election cycle in Israel?” Oren said.
On Friday, Biden is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Some Palestinians say the meeting will serve both leaders’ political needs.
“This visit for President Abbas will be a huge photo-op to show the world, and especially the Arab world and the Palestinian street, ‘Yes, here I am, I’m still alive and kicking.’ For Biden to show the midterm and the November [election] that, ‘Yes, we are taking care of the world and have issues to deal with and we are busy,’” says Dimitri Diliani, a Fatah leader and political activist.
After his meeting with President Abbas, Biden heads to Saudi Arabia on the first direct flight from Tel Aviv to the desert kingdom.