Biden touches down in Tel Aviv, kicking off first Middle East trip of presidency


President Biden lauded the “bone-deep” U.S.-Israeli relationship and pledged to deepen ties between the two countries as he landed Wednesday in Tel Aviv on the first Mideast trip of his presidency.

“Our relationship with the state of Israel is deeper and stronger, in my view, than it’s ever been,” Mr. Biden said. “And with this visit, we’re strengthening our connection even further.”

He was greeted by Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Yair Lapid as he deplaned Air Force One.

Mr. Biden fist-bumped officials on the red carpet rather than extending a traditional handshake, in keeping with White House precautions aimed at limiting contact amid a global spike in coronavirus cases.

Wednesday’s landing in Tel Aviv kicks off Mr. Biden’s 10th trip to Israel in his political career.

The trip will focus on Mr. Biden’s commitment to Israel’s security and its “future as a democratic and Jewish state,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Mr. Sullivan said the president will reprise his “long-standing commitment” to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, saying it is the best path to a viable state of Israel and “a Palestinian state where Palestinians can live in freedom and dignity.”

“He won’t be making formal proposals for the launch of some new peace initiative, what he will do is try to encourage both sides to find a pathway where step by step they move closer towards a vision that works for both Israelis and Palestinians and the region as a whole,” Mr. Sullivan said.

While in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Mr. Biden will receive a briefing on the Iron Dome and Iron Beam Defense Systems.

Later Wednesday, Mr. Biden will pay respects at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

On Thursday, the president is slated to meet with Mr. Lapid and Mr. Herzog in Jerusalem, where the leaders will discuss food security and agriculture.

On Friday, Mr. Biden will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.

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