President Joe Biden first traveled to Israel back in 1973 when he was a newly elected member of the US Senate.
On Wednesday, he arrived for his 10th trip there, and his first as president.
The top agenda item for Biden is regional security. Scheduled meetings with Israeli officials focus on strengthening the regional relationships that Israel has forged with some of its Muslim neighbors.
Israel has new diplomatic relationships with some of their Arab regional neighbors Bahrain, the UAE, Morocco and Sudan.
Reporter Yardena Schwartz, who has been following Biden's visit in Jerusalem, said this is a focus for the president: “One of his goals in coming here is to help Israel and its new allies in the region develop a defense system to counter Iran with the help of Israeli technology.”
Israel isn't the only country in the region that's worried about Iran and its proxies, Schwartz said.
Also, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is also high on the president’s agenda.
Biden will visit the occupied Palestinian territories in East Jerusalem and the West Bank during his Middle Eastern trip.
The US hopes to reset the relationship between itself and Palestinians which suffered under former President Donald Trump.
Dalia Hatuqa, a Palestinian journalist, noted that Biden will only spend about four hours talking with Palestinians, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
To listen to her interview on The World, click on the player below:
“Speaking to lots of Palestinians on the ground, a lot of them say that they're under no illusion that the visit will achieve a political breakthrough,” she said.
Thus far, Biden hasn’t reversed the major changes that Trump implemented by closing down the Palestinian representative office in Washington, DC, shutting down the US consulate to Palestinians in Jerusalem, and also cutting financial support to the PA and funding to the UN refugee agency for Palestinians, she said.
Even so, Palestinians would like to see a number of things happen, she said, including pressure on Israel to stop settlements and to give slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh’s family justice.
“I think that Palestinians might talk about continued settlement activities in the West Bank and how they dim any prospect for a viable Palestinian state coexisting alongside Israel.”
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