Biden news – live: Saudi trip sends ‘wrong message’ says Rep Omar as Air Force One makes historic flight

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Joe Biden greets Prince Mohammed bin Salman with fist-bump on arrival in Saudi Arabia
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LIVE – Updated at 17:27

Joe Biden has landed in Jeddah after making a historic flight as the first US president to fly direct from Israel to Saudi Arabia.

The visit includes a highly-anticipated meeting with the Saudi king and crown prince and comes amid tensions over energy supply, civil liberties, and security cooperation. Rep Ilhan Omar says the trip “sends the wrong message to everyone who cares about human rights”.

The trip is designed to reset the US’ relationship with a country he once pledged to make a “pariah” on the world stage. Ahead of the visit, Israel and Saudi Arabia took an important step towards normalising relations with an agreement on flights and Red Sea islands.

Before flying to Jeddah, the president attempted to repair ties with Palestinians as he reaffirmed US support for “two states for two peoples”. However, he acknowledged that the “ground is not ripe” to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Mr Biden also announced just over $300m in aid to the Palestinians and commitments from Israel to roll out 4G in the West Bank and improve freedom of movement.

After meeting Palestinian authority president Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, Mr Biden also visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Key points

  • Biden reaffirms support for two-state solution but says time not right
  • Biden heads to Saudi Arabia amid tension over oil and Khashoggi killing
  • Report: Israel and Saudi Arabia agree Red Sea islands deal
  • US intelligence report says Iran may try to assassinate Trump and others
  • Biden says US would use force as ‘last resort’ to prevent nuclear Iran
  • President hails ‘bone deep’ US relationship with Israel

Saudi Foreign Ministry posts welcome photos

17:27 , Oliver O’Connell

The fist bump from the other angle, as posted by the Saudi Foreign Ministry.

Biden fist bumps MBS

16:48 , Oliver O’Connell

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met President Joe Biden at the door of the Al Salam Royal Palace, where they will participate in a bilateral meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud.

The two exchanged a brief fist bump before heading inside for the closed-door meeting.

New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker notes that the prince was “unsmiling”.

Biden is eighth president to visit the kingdom

16:40 , Oliver O’Connell

Former CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller notes that Joe Biden is the eighth US president to visit Saudi Arabia.

Both president GHW Bush and GW Bush visited twice, and Barack Obama was in the kingdom a surprising four times during his eight years in office.

And who could forget this moment from Donald Trump’s 2017 visit?

© Provided by The Independent (Saudi Royal Palace/AFP via Getty)

Biden greeted on arrival in Jeddah

16:18 , Oliver O’Connell

Biden lands in Saudi Arabia after historic flight

15:57 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden on Friday arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for two days of meetings with Saudi officials and leaders from across the Gulf region, less than one day after the kingdom announced it would open its’ airspace to all carriers, including those departing from Israel.

Mr Biden arrived aboard Air Force One at 5.53 pm local time, just under two hours after taking off from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. The president’s plane was the second-ever flight to travel directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia, the first such flight having been made by a charter plane carrying the White House press corps several hours earlier.

The president is set to spend the remainder of his day on Friday meeting with Saudi leaders, including King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden arrives in Saudi Arabia after kingdom opens airspace to flights from Israel

Hamas rejects Biden’s sympathy for Palestinians

15:22 , Oliver O’Connell

Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers on Friday dismissed President Joe Biden’s expressions of sympathy for the Palestinians, calling the United States “a partner in the aggression on our people.”

They also criticised President Mahmoud Abbas for meeting with Biden and reiterating his support for a peace process with Israel. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said “it’s strange” that the Palestinian leader “extends his hand for peace with the occupation.”

Hamas and other Palestinian factions held a small protest against Biden’s visit on Thursday.

Hamas, which rejects Israel’s existence, seized power from Abbas’ forces in Gaza after defeating his secular Fatah party in elections more than 15 years ago. Abbas cancelled the first elections since then last year, when it appeared Fatah was heading for another crushing defeat.

Abbas supports negotiations with Israel leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state in east Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and Gaza. The last serious, substantive peace talks collapsed more than a decade ago, and Israel today is dominated by parties opposed to Palestinian statehood.

Biden reiterated his support for a two-state solution during his visit to the region and pledged some $300 million in aid to the Palestinians, but acknowledged that “the ground is not ripe” for a return to direct negotiations.

AP

No immediate announcement on oil production expected after Saudi trip

15:09 , Oliver O’Connell

National security adviser Jake Sullivan says not to expect an immediate announcement on increasing oil production following President Joe Biden’s meetings in Saudi Arabia.

Officials have said an announcement on upping production could potentially happen in the coming weeks.

“I don’t think you should expect a particular announcement here bilaterally because we believe any further action taken to ensure that there is sufficient energy to protect the health of the global economy will be done in the context of OPEC+.”

Statement by President Biden welcoming the opening of Saudi Airspace to Israel

14:52 , Oliver O’Connell

Per the White House:

Saudi Arabia’s historic decision to open its airspace for all civilian planes, including those flying to and from Israel, is an important step towards building a more integrated and stable Middle East region. While this opening has long been discussed, now, thanks to months of steady diplomacy between my Administration and Saudi Arabia, it is finally a reality. Today, I will be the first president of the United States to fly from Israel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. As we mark this important moment, Saudi Arabia’s decision can help build momentum toward Israel’s further integration into the region, including with Saudi Arabia. I will do all that I can, through direct diplomacy and leader-to-leader engagement, to keep advancing this groundbreaking process.

Biden boards Air Force One for historic flight

14:03 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden has boarded Air Force One for a historic first direct flight from Israel to Saudi Arabia by a US President.

© Provided by The Independent Joe Biden gives a salute before boarding Air Force One to depart Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport on 15 July 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

In pictures: Biden’s visit to the West Bank

13:54 , Oliver O’Connell

Readout of Biden’s meeting with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority

13:28 , Oliver O’Connell

From the White House:

Today, President Joseph R Biden Jr met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. President Biden reaffirmed the enduring ties between the Palestinian and American peoples and underscored his commitment to a two-state solution on the 1967 lines with land swaps mutually agreed by the Israelis and Palestinians. He also highlighted the importance of direct negotiations leading to an independent, sovereign, viable, and contiguous Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel, both enjoying secure and recognized borders, allowing the two peoples to live side-by-side in peace and security.

In the meeting, President Biden highlighted a number of initiatives the United States is undertaking to support the Palestinian people. President Biden also discussed encouraging regional governments and the international community to assist the Palestinian people.

The leaders reaffirmed that both Palestinians and Israelis deserve to enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy. President Biden emphasized his belief that the Palestinian people deserve to live lives of dignity and opportunity; to move and travel freely; to feel secure in their communities; and to give hope to their children that they will one day enjoy the same freedom and self-determination of their neighbors.

President Biden reiterated the importance of fostering a political horizon, and noted the United States stands ready to work with Israelis, Palestinians, and regional stakeholders toward that goal. As he had relayed to Israeli leaders, President Biden conveyed to President Abbas that in order to create the conditions for negotiations, it was important for both parties to avoid unilateral measures.

President Biden reiterated the US position that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and that it continues to be the policy of the United States that the specific boundaries of sovereignty in Jerusalem must be resolved through final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. He further reaffirmed the need to preserve the historic status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem, recognizing the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s crucial role as custodian.

Joe Biden visits Church of Nativity

13:12 , Gino Spocchia

Joe Biden visited the Church of the Nativity in the occupied West Bank earlier on Friday.

The site in traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, and is among the oldest churches in the world.

© Provided by The Independent US President Joe Biden visits the Church of Nativity, in Bethlehem (REUTERS)

Abbas and Biden differ on Palestinian journalist’s death

12:51 , Gino Spocchia

Ther US president addressed the death of popular Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on Friday during a press conference with authority president Abbas.

Mr Biden called the death of the Al-Jazeera correspondent in May an “enormous loss to the essential work of sharing with the world the story of the Palestinian people.”

Struggling to pronounce her name, according to the Associated Press, he said Abu Akleh “was performing very vital work” when she was killed while covering an Israeli military raid in the West Bank.

The US State Department concluded earlier this month that Abu Akleh was likely killed by Israeli fire and that there no reason to suggest her killing was intentional. Israel says its soldiers were exchanging gunfire with Palestinian gunmen at the time.

Palestinian authority president Abbas and Abu Akleh’s family have rejected Israel’s and the State Department’s report and called for accountability for the Israeli military.

“The killers of the martyr journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, they need to be held accountable,” said Palestinian president Abbas alongside Mr Biden.

The US president said the US “will continue to insist on a full and transparent accounting of her death and will continue to stand up for media freedom everywhere in the world.”

Human rights groups call out ‘apartheid’

12:34 , Gino Spocchia

On his way to meet Palsteninan authority president Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Friday, Mr Biden’s motorcade passed a billboard from an Israeli human right’s group that read: “Mr. President, this is apartheid.”

The remarks were respresentative of many in Palestine, where officials have expressed disappointment at the US administration’s reluctance to initiate a new round of peace talks between the two states.

Israel has long denied that its treatment of Palestinians amounts to apartheid, and insists that such attacks question its legitimacy.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain reports:

© Provided by The Independent

‘This is apartheid’: Israeli human rights group hang billboards for Biden’s visit

Joe Biden told he ‘cannot buy solution’ to Palestine occupation

12:14 , Namita Singh

Joe Biden has been accused of attempting to “buy a solution” to Israel’s half-century-long occupation of Palestine as it was revealed that he would be pledging more than $300m (£250m) in aid.

On Friday, the US president met his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem – in the Israeli-controlled West Bank – where people have gathered to protest his arrival.

Mr Biden is there as part of his multi-stop trip in the Middle East that began in Israel and is to end with his attendance to a summit in Saudi Arabia.

My colleague Lamiat Sabin reports:

© Provided by The Independent

Biden in West Bank but told he ‘cannot buy solution’ to Palestine occupation

Breaking: Biden reaffirms support for two-state solution but says time not right

12:12 , Namita Singh

President Joe Biden has restated his support for “two states for two people” but said the ground is “not ripe” to restart Israel-Palestine peace talks.

Biden arrives in Bethlehem to meet Abbas

12:00 , Namita Singh

President Joe Biden arrived in the biblical town of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank for talks with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr Biden was given a bouquet of flowers by a pair of Palestinian children as he arrived. He held his hand over his heart as a Palestinian band played the US national anthem before he entered Mr Abbas’ office.

The brief meeting with the Palestinian leader comes after two days of nonstop talks with Israeli leaders. Mr Biden is then to continue to Saudi Arabia for talks with Arab leaders.

© Provided by The Independent US President Joe Biden received by Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas in the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on 15 July 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

In the West Bank, Mr Biden is expected to announce some $200 million in additional assistance to the Palestinians, after pledging $100 million to hospitals that serve Palestinians in east Jerusalem earlier Friday.

Journalists covering Biden’s trip in West Bank wear black T-shirts bearing Akleh image

11:30 , Namita Singh

Palestinian journalists covering president Joe Biden’s visit to the occupied West Bank are wearing black T-shirts bearing the image of slain Palestinian-American correspondent Shereen Abu Akleh.

The popular Al-Jazeera correspondent was killed in May while covering an Israeli military raid in the West Bank.

The Palestinians, including colleagues who were with her, say that Israeli soldiers intentionally killed her. Israel says its troops were in a battle with Palestinian gunmen, and it’s not clear who fired the deadly bullet.

© Provided by The Independent A protestor holds up a picture of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, as Palestinians demonstrate against the visit of US president Joe Biden to Bethlehem (Reuters)

US experts who inspected the bullet recently determined that Israeli fire likely killed her. But without providing evidence, they said there was no reason to believe the shooting was intentional.

Khashoggi fiancee criticises Biden visit

11:00 , Oliver O’Connell

Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, described Joe Biden’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia as “heartbreaking,” accusing the US president of backing down from his pledge of prioritising human rights.

In an interview with The Associated Press in Istanbul a day before Biden travels to Saudi Arabia Friday to meet with the crown prince, Cengiz said Biden should press Saudi Arabia — a country that she described as a “terrible ally” — to embrace a human rights agenda. She also wants Biden to seek more answers from Saudi authorities over what happened to Khashoggi’s remains.

© Provided by The Independent

The AP Interview: Khashoggi fiancee criticizes Biden visit

Biden hails Trump-era Abraham Accords before heading to Saudi Arabia from Israel

10:30 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden on Thursday offered a wholehearted endorsement to the Abraham Accords, a series of normalisation agreements between Israel and several Middle East monarchies brokered during the Trump administration. Mr Biden added that he would work to expand the efforts under his predecessor to deepen ties between Israel and its neighbours.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden offers support for Trump-era Abraham Accords during trip to Israel

Iran military warns US against threats of use of force

10:16 , Namita Singh

The Iranian military warned the United States and Israel on Friday against threatening Tehran with force, local media reported after US president Joe Biden said he would use force as a last resort to prevent the country from getting a nuclear weapon.

“The Americans and Zionists (Israel) know very well the price for using the word ‘force against Iran’,” Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, spokesman for the Iranian armed forces, was quoted as saying by state media.

“Biden must have been drowsy when he threatened Iran,” he said, adding: “Watch your soldiers’ pants – they might get wet in the Persian Gulf!”

Asked by Israeli television this week whether his past statements that he would prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon meant he would use force against Iran, Biden replied: “If that was the last resort, yes.”

On Thursday, Mr Biden and Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid signed a joint pledge to deny Iran nuclear arms, an apparent move toward accommodating Israel’s calls for a “credible military threat” by world powers.

Iran denies seeking seeks nuclear weapons, saying that its nuclear program is for solely peaceful purposes.

Biden announces US funding for East Jerusalem

10:01 , Namita Singh

US president Joe Biden has announced $100m in American assistance for east Jerusalem hospitals that serve as “the backbone” of healthcare for Palestinians.

He spoke on Friday during a visit to the Augusta Victoria Hospital, which provides advanced medical care including radiation treatment for cancer patients and paediatric kidney dialysis to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

© Provided by The Independent US president Joe Biden gives his remarks after his visit to Augusta Victoria Hospital in east Jerusalem, Friday, 15 July 2022 (AP)

The funding is subject to approval by the US Congress and would be paid out over several years.

Mr Biden called the six hospitals “the backbone of the Palestinian health care system”.

Voices: Welcome to Israel, President Biden. As a member of the Knesset, I have a request

09:30 , Oliver O’Connell

In an article exclusively for The Independent, Aida Touma-Sliman, a member of the Israeli Knesset has a plea for Joe Biden: “We need to talk about the Palestinian people, even if you’d rather not.”

Analysis: Biden opposed South African apartheid but is now accused of ignoring similar policies in Israel

09:00 , Oliver O’Connell

When Joe Biden travels to Bethlehem he will be greeted by large billboards emblazoned with the words: “Mr President, this is apartheid,” alongside a map of what is left of the disconnected Palestinian territories — a stunt arranged by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Richard Hall reports on how some of the world’s leading human rights groups have condemned Israel for committing what the president opposed so fiercely as a senator in the 1980s and how he is accused of ignoring it today.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden was a critic of South African apartheid. Where does he stand on Israel today?

Biden: ‘Not going to wait forever’ for Iran to reenter nuclear agreement

08:00 , Oliver O’Connell

US President Joe Biden on Thursday warned that the negotiations meant to bring Iran back into the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement cannot be allowed to drag on indefinitely.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Mr Biden was asked if he’d set a deadline for when he might walk away from the talks, which the US is hoping will re-start the agreement which former president Donald Trump walked away from in 2018.

“We’ve laid out for the people for the leadership of Iran, what we’re willing to accept in order to get back to the JCPOA,” Mr Biden said. “We’re waiting for the response. When that will come, I’m not certain. But we are not going to wait forever.”

Andrew Feinberg has more on the president’s comments.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden says US ‘not going to wait forever’ for Iran to reenter nuclear agreement

Biden to encourage peace and regional security

07:06 , Namita Singh

President Joe Biden on his trip to Saudi Arabia will encourage peace and press for a more integrated Middle East.

“We will be covering a host of bilateral and regional issues, really capping many months of diplomacy and positioning the United States and our partners for the future in a manner that advances our interests and theirs,” a senior Biden administration official told Reuters.

The Saudi envoy said US-Saudi efforts to ensure peace and security should focus on enhancing cooperation and “reinforcing a rules-based system” to confront the “vision of chaos promoted by Iran”.

© Provided by The Independent A worker cleans the road as part of the preparations for US president Joe Biden’s visit, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 14 July 2022 (Reuters)

Gulf states share Israel’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes and Tehran’s proxies in the region where Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran have vied for influence.

During his visit to Israel on the first leg of the Middle East trip, Mr Biden and prime minister Yair Lapid signed a joint pledge to deny Iran nuclear arms, which Tehran denies seeking.

A rematch with Trump? Biden ‘would not be disappointed’

07:00 , Oliver O’Connell

US president Joe Biden has expressed confidence about a possible rematch with Donald Trump in 2024 and said he would not be “disappointed” if that were to happen.

“I’m not predicting, but I would not be disappointed,” Mr Biden said in an interview with Israeli television outlet Channel 12 on Wednesday.

When pressed further on what he meant, the president said: “The one thing I know about politics — and American politics in particular — is there’s no way to predict what’s going to happen.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden ‘would not be disappointed’ to face rematch against Trump in 2024

Biden heads to Saudi Arabia amid tension over oil and Khashoggi killing

06:20 , Namita Singh

President Joe Biden will discuss energy supply, human rights and security cooperation in Saudi Arabia on today on a trip designed to reset the US relationship with the country he once pledged to make a “pariah” on the world stage.

Mr Biden will hold meeting with Saudi Arabia’s king Salman bin Abdulaziz and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, along with other government officials, a senior Biden administration told reporters.

The visit is also being closely watched as US intelligence had concluded that the crown prince directly approved the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. But he had denied playing a role in the incident.

© Provided by The Independent In this file photo taken on 10 October 2018, a demonstrator dressed as Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman with blood on his hands protests outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, demanding justice for missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (AFP via Getty Images)

White House advisers have declined to comment on whether Mr Biden will shake hands with the prince.

“The president’s going to meet about a dozen leaders and he’ll greet them as he usually does,” the administration official said.

Saudi to open airspace to all airlines, including Israel

05:45 , Namita Singh

Saudi Arabia said it would open its airspace to all air carriers, paving the way for more overflights to and from Israel, in a decision welcomed by US president Joe Biden, who is due to visit the kingdom on Friday.

The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation said the country’s airspace was now open to all carriers that meet its requirements for overflights, in line with international conventions that say there should be no discrimination between civil aircraft.

The decision will “complement the efforts aimed at consolidating the kingdom’s position as a global hub connecting three continents and to enhance international air connectivity,” it added.

© Provided by The Independent A man stands under American and Saudi Arabian flags prior to a visit by US president Joe Biden, at a square in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, 14 July 2022 (AP)

Mr Biden welcomed the decision, said White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

This decision paves the way for a more integrated, stable, and secure Middle East region, which is vital for the security and prosperity of the United States and the American people, and for the security and prosperity of Israel.

Jake Sullivan

Biden: Force a ‘last resort’ to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons

05:30 , Oliver O’Connell

The United States would use force to prevent Iran from acquiring or developing nuclear weapons if all other options fail, President Joe Biden has said.

Mr Biden said the US would use its military to prevent Iran’s nuclear program from succeeding in bringing about a working nuclear weapon during an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 news.

After his interviewer raised prior comments in which Mr Biden had said he’d do anything to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, she asked if that meant he would use force against Iran.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden says US would use force as ‘last resort’ to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons

Biden to offer $316m financial assistance to Palestinians

05:12 , Namita Singh

When president Joe Biden heads to the occupied West Bank on Friday for talks with Palestinian leaders, he will have little to offer beyond US money aimed at buying calm.

He’s expected to announce $316m in financial assistance — about a third of which will require congressional approval — and a commitment from Israel to modernize wireless access for Palestinians.

Mr Biden acknowledged this week that while he supports a two-state solution, it won’t happen “in the near-term”. The US also appears to have accepted defeat in its more modest push to reopen a Jerusalem consulate serving the Palestinians that was closed when president Donald Trump recognized the contested city as Israel’s capital.

© Provided by The Independent Palestinian police on patrol where US president Joe Biden’s convoy is expected to pass in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, 14 July 2022 (EPA) © Provided by The Independent A Palestinian demonstrator carries a placard which reads ‘Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine’ during a gathering to protest the visit of US president Joe Biden, in Gaza City on 14 July 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

But although Mr Biden will reiterate his support for an independent Palestinian state, there’s no clear path to one. The last round of serious peace talks broke down more than a decade ago, leaving millions of Palestinians living under Israeli military rule.

Palestinian leaders also fear being further undermined by the Abraham Accords, a diplomatic vehicle for Arab nations to normalize relations with Israel despite the continuing occupation. Mr Biden, who heads next to Saudi Arabia to attend a summit of Arab leaders, hopes to broaden that process, which began under Mr Trump.

Biden in Saudi Arabia: ‘Humiliating climbdown’ or a chance to assert US diplomacy?

04:00 , Oliver O’Connell

The White House says Mr Biden’s visit with Saudi leaders is meant to ‘reorient’ America’s relationship with Riyadh. But as Andrew Feinberg reports, foreign policy experts are split on whether the president should be going at all.

© Provided by The Independent

What’s really behind Biden’s controversial trip to Saudi Arabia

Why is Joe Biden going to Saudi Arabia?

03:00 , Oliver O’Connell

There will be several issues on the agenda when Joe Biden touches down friday in Jeddah, the centuries-old port city on the coast of Red Sea.

Mr Biden will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Friday, his first visit to an Arab country since taking office, as part of his participation at King Salman’s invitation in a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council: a political, economic and military alliance which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates alongside Saudi Arabia, which is hosting the summit.

He’ll also attend a bilateral meeting with the leaders of Saudi Arabia itself including King Salman and his controversial heir, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

© Provided by The Independent

Why is Joe Biden going to Saudi Arabia?

Understanding Joe Biden’s evolving views on Saudi Arabia

02:00 , Oliver O’Connell

Joe Biden will touch down in Saudi Arabia on Friday in a move that will bring an unceremonious end to his campaign promise to make the wealthy Gulf state a “pariah” in the global community.

The president’s visit, which he attempted to explain in a Washington Post op-ed and through a statement from his press secretary last month, is a clear reversal of his onetime vow to make the Kingdom pay for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of the Saudi crown prince, Mohamed bin Salman.

A year and a half into his White House term, Mr Biden’s evolving view on Saudi Arabia remains one of the starkest differences between Joe Biden the president and Joe Biden the presidential candidate.

John Bowden reports.

© Provided by The Independent

From ‘pariah’ to ‘partner’: Understanding Joe Biden’s evolving views on Saudi Arabia

While Biden tours Middle East, inflation remains number one concern at home

Friday 15 July 2022 00:00 , Oliver O’Connell

Inflation has hit a 40-year high as prices increased 9.1 per cent year over year, according to the latest numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers jumped 1.3 per cent last month, with gasoline, shelter and food being the largest contributors to inflation.

The numbers are a devastating blow for President Joe Biden as many voters continue to express frustration about rising prices.

Eric Garcia reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Inflation hits 40-year high, with energy prices being the highest contributing factor

Washington Post publisher hits out at Biden Saudi Arabia trip

Thursday 14 July 2022 23:00 , Oliver O’Connell

Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan hit out at President Joe Biden on Tuesday over the inclusion of Saudi Arabia on the itinerary for his upcoming Middle East trip.

In a column published in the newspaper’s opinion pages, Mr Ryan wrote that Mr Biden’s trip “erodes our moral authority” and represents an “embarrassing reversal” after the president vowed during the 2020 campaign to hold Saudi Arabia’s leadership accountable for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mr Khashoggi, who wrote frequently for the Washington Post and other outlets, was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 following his critical reporting on his native country’s government.

Abe Asher reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Washington Post publisher hits out at Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia

In pictures: Joe Biden meets with US athletes at the 2022 Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem

Thursday 14 July 2022 22:00 , Oliver O’Connell

Biden secures Red Sea islands deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia

Thursday 14 July 2022 20:40 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden has reportedly helped cement an agreement between Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt that would resolve a long-standing dispute over a pair of islands in the Red Sea and allow Israeli aircraft to transit through Saudi airspace for the first time in history.

According to Axios, the agreement would allow the Saudis to take full control of Tiran and Sanafir islands, which have been a demilitarized zone since Egypt and Israel signed the 1979 peace treaty negotiated with the help of then-president Jimmy Carter.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden secures deal on Red Sea islands and Israeli use of Saudi airspace

Opinion: Biden wanted to make Saudi Arabia ‘a pariah’. What’s changed?

Thursday 14 July 2022 20:20 , Oliver O’Connell

Jeffrey Fields, associate professor of the practice of international relations at the University of Southern California, writes:

This visit represents a reversal of rhetoric and policy for Biden, especially as the agenda includes a meeting with the crown prince accused over Khashoggi’s killing.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden said he wanted to make Saudi Arabia ‘a pariah’. What changed?

Biden’s Friday schedule

Thursday 14 July 2022 20:00 , Oliver O’Connell

At present, no times have been given for the president’s schedule on Friday 15 July, but he has five items listed including a visit to the West Bank to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestininan Authority.

  • The President will deliver remarks at Augusta Victoria Hospital regarding the East Jerusalem Hospital Network.
  • The President will meet with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority at the Muqataa Presidential Compound in Bethlehem, West Bank.
  • The President and President Mahmoud Abbas will deliver joint statements.
  • The President will visit the Church of the Nativity.
  • The President will travel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Report: Israel and Saudi Arabia agree Red Sea islands deal

Thursday 14 July 2022 19:37 , Oliver O’Connell

Citing Israeli officials, Axios is reporting a major deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia that could see a path mapped out toward the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the two Middle Eastern powers.

The deal concerns two Red Sea islands — Tiran and Sanafir — and would see Saudi Arabia pledge to honour commitment of the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace agreement that maintains freedom of navigation by Israeli ships.

The US has been quietly negotiating the deal for months and would give Israel security guarantees about the freedom of navigation based on Saudi commitments.

A separate agreement will then be made possible allowing Israeli airlines the use of Saudi air space for eastbound flights to India and China, as well as allowing direct charter flights from Israel to the kingdom for Muslim pilgrims wanting to visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

An announcement is expected over the weekend when President Joe Biden visits Jeddah.

Biden: ‘Not going to wait forever’ for Iran to reenter nuclear agreement

Thursday 14 July 2022 19:30 , Oliver O’Connell

US President Joe Biden on Thursday warned that the negotiations meant to bring Iran back into the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement cannot be allowed to drag on indefinitely.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Mr Biden was asked if he’d set a deadline for when he might walk away from the talks, which the US is hoping will re-start the agreement which former president Donald Trump walked away from in 2018.

Andrew Feinberg reports for The Independent.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden says US ‘not going to wait forever’ for Iran to reenter nuclear agreement

Biden watching Maccbiah Games opening ceremony

Thursday 14 July 2022 18:38 , Oliver O’Connell

In his final official appointment of the day, President Joe Biden is watching the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah Games at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.

The third largest sporting event in the world, the games were first held in 1932 and are an international Jewish and Israeli multi-sport event held every four years in Israel.

President Biden was joined by President Herzog and Prime Minister Lapid. The president greeted and posed for photos with the US team.

Biden hails Trump-era Abraham Accords during trip to Israel

Thursday 14 July 2022 18:30 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden on Thursday offered a wholehearted endorsement to the Abraham Accords, a series of normalisation agreements between Israel and several Middle East monarchies brokered during the Trump administration. Mr Biden added that he would work to expand the efforts under his predecessor to deepen ties between Israel and its neighbours.

Andrew Feinberg listened to the president’s remarks.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden offers support for Trump-era Abraham Accords during trip to Israel

Readout of President Biden’s meeting with President Herzog of Israel

Thursday 14 July 2022 18:15 , Oliver O’Connell

Per The White House:

President Biden met with President Isaac Herzog of Israel today ahead of the Israeli Medal of Honour ceremony this evening. The leaders discussed several issues including the United States’ ironclad support for Israel’s security, their commitment to working together to counter Iran’s destabilising activities, and efforts to promote regional integration to widen the circle of peace. President Biden and President Herzog reaffirmed the deep bonds and enduring friendship between our two nations and our people.

Analysis: Biden opposed South African apartheid but is now accused of ignoring similar policies in Israel

Thursday 14 July 2022 18:00 , Oliver O’Connell

When Joe Biden travels to Bethlehem he will be greeted by large billboards emblazoned with the words: “Mr President, this is apartheid,” alongside a map of what is left of the disconnected Palestinian territories — a stunt arranged by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Richard Hall reports on how some of the world’s leading human rights groups have condemned Israel for committing what the president opposed so fiercely as a senator in the 1980s and how he is accused of ignoring it today.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden was a critic of South African apartheid. Where does he stand on Israel today?

US force as ‘last resort’ to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons says Biden

Thursday 14 July 2022 17:30 , Oliver O’Connell

The United States would use force to prevent Iran from acquiring or developing nuclear weapons if all other options fail, President Joe Biden has said.

Mr Biden said the US would use its military to prevent Iran’s nuclear program from succeeding in bringing about a working nuclear weapon during an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 news.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden says US would use force as ‘last resort’ to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons

Biden has met all of Israel leaders since 1973

Thursday 14 July 2022 17:00 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden is six years older than the state of Israel, which was established in 1948, and he’s met every one of the country’s prime ministers since he first became as a US senator in 1973.

He first visited Israel that year shortly before the Yom Kippur War – fought between Israel and Arab nations.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden’s Israel visit means he has met all country’s leaders since 1973

Voices: Welcome to Israel, President Biden. As a member of the Knesset, I have a request

Thursday 14 July 2022 16:40 , Oliver O’Connell

In an article exclusively for The Independent, Aida Touma-Sliman, a member of the Israeli Knesset has a plea for Joe Biden: “We need to talk about the Palestinian people, even if you’d rather not.”

© Provided by The Independent

Welcome to Israel, President Biden. As a member of the Knesset, I have a request

Biden presented with Israeli Presidential Medal of Honour

Thursday 14 July 2022 16:22 , Oliver O’Connell © Provided by The Independent Israeli President Isaac Herzog presents US President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Honor (AFP via Getty Images) © Provided by The Independent President Joe Biden stands with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal as they pose for photos with children (AP)

Herzog brings Biden a copy of minutes of Golda Meir meeting

Thursday 14 July 2022 16:15 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden is participating in a ceremony with President Isaac Herzog in which he is being awarded the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honour.

In remarks before the ceremony, Mr Herzog said he brought with him a copy of the minutes from then-Senator Biden’s 1973 meeting with Golda Meir that he frequently talks about.

The minutes record how the young Mr Biden “was carried away by his enthusiasm” during the meeting on his first trip to Israel.

Biden meets Netanyahu

Thursday 14 July 2022 16:12 , Oliver O’Connell

After his meeting with the Israeli president, Joe Biden met with former Prime Minister and leader of the opposition Benjamin Netanyahu.

Biden’s visitor book message at the presidential residence

Thursday 14 July 2022 16:04 , Oliver O’Connell

US President Joe Biden left Israeli President Isaac Herzog a personal message of friendship in a note for the visitors’ book at the presidential residence in Jerusalem.

© Provided by The Independent US President Joe Biden and Israeli President Isaac Herzog (AP)

My friend, thank you for all you and your family have done to deepen the ironclad bonds 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!

Who was Qassem Soleimani?

Thursday 14 July 2022 15:50 , Oliver O’Connell

A shocking story from Yahoo News relays a US intelligence report that warns of potential assassination threats from Iran against top Trump administration officials, including the ex-president himself to avenge the 2020 death of Qassem Soleimani.

Here’s a refresher on who General Soleimani was and his role in Iran and the wider region.

© Provided by The Independent

Qassem Soleimani: The elusive general who was feared by his foes and fiercely admired at home

Biden shares Israeli president’s ties to Ireland

Thursday 14 July 2022 15:33 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden noted Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s ties to Ireland, where his father was the chief rabbi.

“He was the Sinn Fein Rabbi,” Mr Biden joked.

Biden meets with President Herzog

Thursday 14 July 2022 15:20 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden’s next stop on his visit to Israel is the presidential residence in Jerusalem, where he was greeted by President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog.

© Provided by The Independent President Joe Biden welcomed by Israeli President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog at the Presidential residence in Jerusalem (AFP via Getty Images) © Provided by The Independent President Biden signs the guest book at the Presidential residence in Jerusalem (AFP via Getty Images)

Biden ‘would not be disappointed’ by Trump 2024 rematch

Thursday 14 July 2022 15:00 , Oliver O’Connell

US president Joe Biden has expressed confidence about a possible rematch with Donald Trump in 2024 and said he would not be “disappointed” if that were to happen.

“I’m not predicting, but I would not be disappointed,” Mr Biden said in an interview with Israeli television outlet Channel 12 on Wednesday.

Biden’s visit taking place against chaotic backdrop of Israeli politics

Thursday 14 July 2022 14:30 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden, facing his own set of challenges back in Washington, will spend Thursday navigating Israel’s chaotic politics as he meets with the country’s leaders to bolster cooperation with the United States and other nations.

Biden played down the political uncertainty in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 that aired Wednesday.

“We’re committed to the state, not an individual leader,” he said.

© Provided by The Independent

Israeli politics a chaotic backdrop for Biden’s visit

I2U2: India, Israel, UAE, and US convene first leaders meeting

Thursday 14 July 2022 14:08 , Oliver O’Connell

As part of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, he and Prime Minister Yair Lapid were joined via video conference by their Indian and Emirati counterparts — Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

© Provided by The Independent (REUTERS)

The group, named I2U2, is seen as a companion project to the Quad — Australia, India, Japan, and the US — as a way of countering China’s influence across the Middle East and South Asia.

In the group’s first joint statement, the four leaders said: This unique grouping of countries aims to harness the vibrancy of our societies and entrepreneurial spirit to tackle some of the greatest challenges confronting our world, with a particular focus on joint investments and new initiatives in water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security.

© Provided by The Independent (AP)

Watch: Biden’s remarks on Iran

Thursday 14 July 2022 13:40 , Oliver O’Connell

Biden: US ‘not going to wait forever’ for Iran to reenter nuclear agreement

Thursday 14 July 2022 13:28 , Oliver O’Connell

US President Joe Biden on Thursday warned that the negotiations meant to bring Iran back into the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement cannot be allowed to drag on indefinitely.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Mr Biden was asked if he’d set a deadline for when he might walk away from the talks, which the US is hoping will re-start the agreement which former president Donald Trump walked away from in 2018.

“We’ve laid out for the people for the leadership of Iran, what we’re willing to accept in order to get back to the JCPOA,” Mr Biden said. “We’re waiting for the response. When that will come, I’m not certain. But we are not going to wait forever”.

Andrew Feinberg reports for The Independent.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden says US ‘not going to wait forever’ for Iran to reenter nuclear agreement

Biden asked about raising Khashoggi murder with Saudis

Thursday 14 July 2022 13:26 , Oliver O’Connell

Asked about bringing up the murder of Jamal Khashoggi with the Saudi leadership, President Biden does not commit to directly raising the topic but notes his “I always bring up human rights. I always bring up human rights. but my position on Khashoggi has been so clear, if anyone doesn’t understand it in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else, then they haven’t been around for a while.”

Biden praises progress of the Abraham Accords

Thursday 14 July 2022 13:23 , Oliver O’Connell

President Biden also praised the Abraham Accords, brought about by the efforts of the previous administration, and reaffirmed the US’s commitment to building on them.

“Tomorrow I’ll be the first American president to fly from Israel directly to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. That represents important progress.”

“When I see the Saudi leadership tomorrow, I’ll be carrying a direct message,” the president says, adding it will be a message of peace and extraordinary opportunities in a more stable region.

Biden’s emphasises return to diplomacy with Iran

Thursday 14 July 2022 13:21 , Oliver O’Connell

In his remarks, President Joe Biden says that while Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon, he continues to believe diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome, even as he vows to help Israel counter Iranian terrorism and ballistic missiles.

He continues by saying that as Israel and the US move forward together, partners in both security and innovation, their defence sectors will cooperate and the new high-energy laser weapon systems that can defend Israel — the Iron Beam.

On the Iran nuclear deal, Mr Biden says: “We are not going to wait forever.”

Lapid reaches out to America’s Gulf partners

Thursday 14 July 2022 13:15 , Oliver O’Connell

Prime Minister Lapid reaches out to the leaders of America’s Gulf allies, with whom President Biden will meet this weekend.

“I would like you to pass them all a message from us: Our hand is outstretched for peace. We are ready to share our technology and experience, ready for our people to meet and learn about one another, ready for our scientists to collaborate and our businesses to cooperate.”

Lapid does not mince words on Iran

Thursday 14 July 2022 13:13 , Oliver O’Connell

Prime Minister Lapid says to President Biden on Iran that he has said many times that “big countries do not bluff”, and that he completely agrees and that on Iran their words should not be a bluff, but the real thing, adding that the Iranian regime must know that if they continue to deceive the world, they will pay a heavy price.

““They want to destroy the only Jewish state in the world. We will never let that happen. Words will not stop them. Diplomacy will not stop them,” he says. “The only way to stop them is to put a credible military threat on the table.”

Biden and Lapid sign joint declaration

Thursday 14 July 2022 13:10 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid have signed a joint declaration affirming bonds between counties, security support, and efforts to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon with the United States pledging to use “all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome”.

Full text of the declaration.

US intelligence report says Iran may try to assassinate Trump and others

Thursday 14 July 2022 12:17 , Andrew Naughtie

As Joe Biden reiterates that “the only thing worse than the Iran that exists now is the Iran with nuclear weapons”, a shocking story from Yahoo News relays a US intelligence report that warns of potential assassination threats from Iran against top Trump administration officials, including the ex-president himself.

“The Iranian regime is waging a multipronged campaign — including threats of lethal action, international legal maneuvering, and the issuance of Iranian arrest warrants and sanctions — against select US officials to avenge the death of [Iranian Revolutionary Guard] Commander Soleimani in January 2020, raising the threat at home and abroad for those Iran views as responsible for the killing.”

Specifically singled out alongside Mr Trump are his former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and former CENTCOM Commander General Kenneth McKenzie.

Read the full report here.

Looking ahead: What’s really behind Biden’s controversial trip to Saudi Arabia?

Thursday 14 July 2022 11:45 , Oliver O’Connell

Before President Joe Biden heads to Saudi Arabia, Andrew Feinberg looks at how foreign policy experts are split on whether the president should be going at all.

© Provided by The Independent

What’s really behind Biden’s controversial trip to Saudi Arabia

Joe Biden’s evolving views on Saudi Arabia

Thursday 14 July 2022 11:15 , Oliver O’Connell

Joe Biden will touch down in Saudi Arabia on Friday in a move that will bring an unceremonious end to his campaign promise to make the wealthy Gulf state a “pariah” in the global community.

The president’s visit, which he attempted to explain in a Washington Post op-ed and through a statement from his press secretary last month, is a clear reversal of his onetime vow to make the Kingom pay for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of the Saudi crown prince, Mohamed bin Salman.

A year and a half into his White House term, Mr Biden’s evolving view on Saudi Arabia remains one of the starkest differences between Joe Biden the president and Joe Biden the presidential candidate.

John Bowden reports.

© Provided by The Independent

From ‘pariah’ to ‘partner’: Understanding Joe Biden’s evolving views on Saudi Arabia

Secret Service agent sent back to US after alleged assault

Thursday 14 July 2022 10:45 , Oliver O’Connell

A member of the US Secret Service has returned to the United States after allegedly assaulting a woman outside a bar and being detained by Israeli national police in Jerusalem.

Josh Marcus reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Secret Service agent back in US after allegedly assaulting woman at bar in Israel

Joe Biden has met every Israeli leader since 1973

Thursday 14 July 2022 10:15 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden is six years older than the state of Israel, which was established in 1948, and he’s met every one of the country’s prime ministers since he first became a US senator in 1973.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden’s Israel visit means he has met all country’s leaders since 1973

Biden asked about ‘undeniable gap’ with progressive Democrats on Israel

Thursday 14 July 2022 09:45 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden is asked about the “undeniable gap” between progressive Democrats and him on Israel.

He tells Channel 12: “There are a few of them. I think they’re wrong. I think they’re making a mistake. Israel is a democracy. Israel is our ally … And I think I make no apologies.”

Mr Biden adds: “There’s no possibility, I think, of the Democratic party, or even a significant portion of the Republican party, walking away from Israel.”

Biden says US would use force as ‘last resort’ to prevent nuclear Iran

Thursday 14 July 2022 09:15 , Oliver O’Connell

The United States would use force to prevent Iran from acquiring or developing nuclear weapons if all other options fail, President Joe Biden said during an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 news.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden says US would use force as ‘last resort’ to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons

Biden ‘would not be disappointed’ by rematch with Trump in 2024

Thursday 14 July 2022 08:30 , Oliver O’Connell

During his interview with Israel’s Channel 12, President Joe Biden was asked if he was predicting a rematch with Donald Trump in the 2024 election.

Mr Biden responded: “I’m not predicting, but I would not be disappointed.”

Biden memorial note stresses importance of remembrance to counter hate

Thursday 14 July 2022 07:45 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden wrote a personal message to mark his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem stressing the importance of remembering the Holocaust and teaching new generations about it to stop it from happening again.

The president wrote:

It is a great honour to be back — back to my emotional home —We must never, ever forget, because hate is never defeated, it only hides.

We must teach every succeeding generation that it can happen again unless we remember.

That is what I teach my children and grandchildren. Never forget.

© Provided by The Independent (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid Covid worries, a Middle East trip with fist bump greetings for Biden — with some exceptions

Thursday 14 July 2022 06:45 , Oliver O’Connell

The White House said President Joe Biden would try to limit physical contact during his Middle East trip because of concern about rising COVID-19 cases — but the president swiftly reverted to his old-school, back-slapping ways after landing in Israel on Wednesday.

He doled out a few fist bumps after stepping off the plane but then threw an arm around Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and shook hands with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Later he hugged and kissed two Holocaust survivors while visiting the Yad Vashem Memorial museum.

© Provided by The Independent

Amid COVID worries, fist bumps for Biden — with exceptions

Biden tours Israel Holocaust Memorial

Thursday 14 July 2022 05:45 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden is at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.

During a solemn ceremony, the president was invited to rekindle the eternal flame in the Hall of Remembrance and then to lay a wreath in memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Nazi death camps.

© Provided by The Independent President Joe Biden, wearing a skullcap, participates in a wreath laying ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem (AP)

After the ceremony, President Biden met and spoke with two Holocaust survivors, Americans Dr Gita Cycowicz and Rena Quint.

© Provided by The Independent The president also shared smiles with survivors Dr Gita Cycowicz and Rena Quint as the three spoke after a solemn ceremony (REUTERS)

Photographers captured the president pausing to wipe away tears while meeting the two women.

© Provided by The Independent President Joe Biden wipes away tears as he meets with Holocaust survivors at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem (REUTERS)

Watch: Biden arrives in Israel for start of Middle East tour

Thursday 14 July 2022 04:55 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden kicked off his first tour of the Middle East on Wednesday when he landed in Israel.

Biden Middle East tour comes as inflation dominates national agenda

Thursday 14 July 2022 04:00 , Oliver O’Connell

Inflation has hit a 40-year high as prices increased 9.1 per cent year over year, according to the latest numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers jumped 1.3 per cent last month, with gasoline, shelter and food being the largest contributors to inflation.

The numbers are a devastating blow for President Joe Biden as many voters continue to express frustration about rising prices.

© Provided by The Independent

Inflation hits 40-year high, with energy prices being the highest contributing factor

Here’s what the president had to say following the publication of the new data on Wednesday morning.

While today’s headline inflation reading is unacceptably high, it is also out-of-date. Energy alone comprised nearly half of the monthly increase in inflation. Today’s data does not reflect the full impact of nearly 30 days of decreases in gas prices, that have reduced the price at the pump by about 40 cents since mid-June. Those savings are providing important breathing room for American families. And, other commodities like wheat have fallen sharply since this report.

Importantly, today’s report shows that what economists call annual “core inflation” came down for the third month in a row, and is the first month since last year where the annual “core” inflation rate is below six percent.

Inflation is our most pressing economic challenge. It is hitting almost every country in the world. It is little comfort to Americans to know that inflation is also high in Europe, and higher in many countries there than in America. But it is a reminder that all major economies are battling this Covid-related challenge, made worse by Putin’s unconscionable aggression.

Tackling inflation is my top priority — we need to make more progress, more quickly, in getting price increases under control. Here is what I will do:

First, I will continue to do everything I can to bring down the price of gas. I will continue my historic release of oil from our strategic petroleum reserve. I will continue working with our European allies to put a price cap on Russian oil — sapping Putin of oil revenue. And, I will continue to work with the US oil and gas industry to increase production responsibly — already, the US is producing 12.1 million barrels of oil per day and is on track to break records.

But I will also continue to insist — as I have with urgency recently – that reductions in the price of oil must produce lower gas prices for consumers at the pump. The price of oil is down about 20 per cent since mid-June, but the price of gas has so far only fallen half as much. Oil and gas companies must not use this moment as an excuse for profiting by not passing along savings at the pump.

Second, I will urge Congress to act, this month, on legislation to reduce the cost of everyday expenses that are hitting American families, from prescription drugs to utility bills to health insurance premiums, and to make more in America.

Third, I will continue to oppose any efforts by Republicans — as they have proposed during this campaign year — to make things worse by raising taxes on working people, or putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every five years.

Finally, I will continue to give the Federal Reserve the room it needs to help it combat inflation.

Biden dismisses poll that Dems want new candidate for 2024

Thursday 14 July 2022 03:10 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden dismissed a recent poll that showed most Democrats don’t want him to run for office again, arguing that the party does in fact support him in contesting the 2024 election.

A new poll conducted by The New York Times found that at least 64 per cent of Democrats want someone else to stand for the party at the next presidential election.

Read more:

© Provided by The Independent

Biden misrepresents poll to claim Democrats want him to run in 2024

Biden attends briefing on Iron Dome and Iron Beam defence systems

Thursday 14 July 2022 02:30 , Oliver O’Connell

Following his remarks upon arriving in Israel, President Joe Biden’s first order of business was to attend a briefing on the defence systems deployed by Israel to counter rocket, mortar, and drone attacks — the Iron Dome and the Iron Beam.

Iron Dome is a mobile air defence system developed by RADS and Israel Aerospace Industries, designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 4km (2.5 miles) to 70km (43 miles) away and whose trajectory would take them to populated areas of Israel.

© Provided by The Independent President Joe Biden speaks to Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz in front of an Iron Beam (L) and an Iron Dome battery (AFP via Getty Images)

From when it became operational in 2011 to 2021, the US contributed a total of $1.6bn to the defence system. The Biden administration, working with Congress, has approved another $1bn in the past year alone. As he is briefed on the system, President Joe Biden will also review a new laser-enabled missile defense system called Iron Beam, which is in development now and which will involve a partnership between the US and Israel, just as Iron Dome did.

This next generation of missile defence technology is intended to defeat threats from both state and non-state actors at a much shorter range of under 7km (4.3 miles) and is more effective against unmanned aerial vehicles.

It is expected to be deployed within the year.

ICYMI: Biden’s arrival remarks on his tenth visit to Israel

Thursday 14 July 2022 01:00 , Oliver O’Connell

Israeli President Isaac Herzog welcomed President Joe Biden on behalf of the people of Israel saying he was here “among family”, referring to the trip as a “journey of peace”.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid then spoke, calling the visit historic and personal. He said Mr Biden was one of the best friends Israel has ever known.

© Provided by The Independent President Joe Biden is welcomed by Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv (AFP via Getty Images)

He said Israel has grown and developed and that one of the items for discussion was security issues including “the need to renew a strong global coalition that will stop the Iranian nuclear problem”.

President Biden spoke next and said it was an honour to stand with friends and “and visit the independent Jewish state of Israel”, noting that it was his tenth visit to the country, his first being in 1973 shortly before the Yom Kippur war. He called every visit a “blessing”.

Mr Biden said the relationship between the US and Israel “is deeper and stronger in my view than it’s ever been”.

© Provided by The Independent President Joe Biden speaks after arriving at Ben Gurion Airport on 13 July 2022 (AP)

He also reaffirmed the “unshakeable commitment” the US has to Israel’s security, including partnering with Israel on “the most cutting edge defence systems in the world”.

The president said he would continue to discuss his support for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, though he said he knows it is “not in the near term”.

“A two-state solution remains in my view, the best way to ensure the future meaningful measure of freedom, prosperity, and democracy for Israelis and Palestinians,” Mr Biden said.

Why is Joe Biden going to Saudi Arabia?

Thursday 14 July 2022 00:00 , Oliver O’Connell

There will be several issues on the agenda when Joe Biden touches down friday in Jeddah, the centuries-old port city on the coast of Red Sea.

Mr Biden will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Friday, his first visit to an Arab country since taking office, as part of his participation at King Salman’s invitation in a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council: a political, economic and military alliance which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates alongside Saudi Arabia, which is hosting the summit.

John Bowden takes a look at what’s on the president’s agenda.

© Provided by The Independent

Why is Joe Biden going to Saudi Arabia?

Biden: Trump’s decision to pull out of Iran agreement ‘gigantic mistake’

Wednesday 13 July 2022 23:15 , Oliver O’Connell

During his interview with Israel’s Channel 12, President Joe Biden also defended his administration’s push to restore the Obama-era agreement which had briefly halted Iran’s nuclear programme. The Biden administration has been in negotiations with Tehran in an attempt to bring back the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of the deal negotiated between Iran, the EU, and the five permanent nuclear weapons states, the US, the UK, China, Russia, and France.

“The only thing worse than the Iran that exists now is the Iran with nuclear weapons,” Mr Biden said.

He added that he believes it was a “giant mistake” for the Trump administration to back out of the agreement because Iran is “closer to a nuclear weapon now than they were before,” but he also said he is committed to keeping Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organisations, even if it kills any chance of rebooting the agreement.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden says US would use force as ‘last resort’ to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons

Analysis: Biden opposed South African apartheid but is now accused of ignoring similar policies in Israel

Wednesday 13 July 2022 22:48 , Oliver O’Connell

When Joe Biden travels to Bethlehem he will be greeted by large billboards emblazoned with the words: “Mr President, this is apartheid,” alongside a map of what is left of the disconnected Palestinian territories — a stunt arranged by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Richard Hall reports on how some of the world’s leading human rights groups have condemned Israel for committing what the president opposed so fiercely as a senator in the 1980s and how he is accused of ignoring it today.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden was a critic of South African apartheid. Where does he stand on Israel today?

Joe Biden’s evolving views on Saudi Arabia

Wednesday 13 July 2022 22:30 , Oliver O’Connell

Joe Biden will touch down in Saudi Arabia on Friday in a move that will bring an unceremonious end to his campaign promise to make the wealthy Gulf state a “pariah” in the global community.

The president’s visit, which he attempted to explain in a Washington Post op-ed and through a statement from his press secretary last month, is a clear reversal of his onetime vow to make the Kingom pay for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of the Saudi crown prince, Mohamed bin Salman.

A year and a half into his White House term, Mr Biden’s evolving view on Saudi Arabia remains one of the starkest differences between Joe Biden the president and Joe Biden the presidential candidate.

John Bowden reports.

© Provided by The Independent

From ‘pariah’ to ‘partner’: Understanding Joe Biden’s evolving views on Saudi Arabia

Secret Service agent sent back to US after alleged assault

Wednesday 13 July 2022 21:45 , Oliver O’Connell

A member of the US Secret Service has returned to the United States after allegedly assaulting a woman outside a bar and being detained by Israeli national police in Jerusalem.

Josh Marcus reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Secret Service agent back in US after allegedly assaulting woman at bar in Israel

Watch: Biden says normalisation of Saudi-Israeli relations ‘will take time’

Wednesday 13 July 2022 21:20 , Oliver O’Connell

Joe Biden has met every Israeli leader since 1973

Wednesday 13 July 2022 21:00 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden is six years older than the state of Israel, which was established in 1948, and he’s met every one of the country’s prime ministers since he first became a US senator in 1973 and visited just before the Yom Kippur war.

Read more:

© Provided by The Independent

Biden’s Israel visit means he has met all country’s leaders since 1973

Watch: Biden says anti-Israel voices in Democratic Party are ‘few’ and ‘wrong’

Wednesday 13 July 2022 20:30 , Oliver O’Connell

Biden urged to raise cases of political prisoners on Middle East trip

Wednesday 13 July 2022 20:15 , Oliver O’Connell

Joe Biden has been urged to raise the plight of three political prisoners in different nations when he visits the Middle East – as well as to press for action over every person “unjustly” held in the region.

The relatives of political prisoners being held in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – the person held in Cairo, Alaa Abdel El-Fattah, has joint UK-Egyptian citizenship – travelled to Washington DC, where they have called on the US leader to raise the specific cases.

They also want Mr Biden to more generally press the issue of human rights in the region, something the US president has long vowed he will do.

The Independent’s Andrew Buncombe reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden urged to demand action for ‘unjustly detained’ political prisoners

Secret Service agent sent back to US after alleged assault at bar

Wednesday 13 July 2022 19:54 , Oliver O’Connell

A member of the Secret Service has been sent back to the US after being detained by Israeli police in Jerusalem.

It is alleged he assaulted a woman outside of a bar, according to reports. It is not known exactly how the incident came about, but local reporting suggests he was intoxicated.

“Late Monday, the United States Secret Service was informed that an agency employee working in Israel was allegedly involved in a physical encounter. The employee was briefly detained and questioned by Israeli police, who released him without charges. The employee has returned to the United States,” the agency said in a statement.

“In accordance with agency protocol, his access to Secret Service systems and facilities was suspended pending further investigation.”

In pictures: Biden pays respects at Yad Vashem

Wednesday 13 July 2022 19:30 , Oliver O’Connell © Provided by The Independent President Joe Biden, wearing a skullcap, participates in a wreath laying ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem (AP) © Provided by The Independent President Joe Biden rekindles the Eternal Flame at the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum as Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks on (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

What’s really behind Biden’s controversial trip to Saudi Arabia

Wednesday 13 July 2022 19:00 , Oliver O’Connell

The White House says Mr Biden’s visit with Saudi leaders is meant to ‘reorient’ America’s relationship with Riyadh. But as Andrew Feinberg reports, foreign policy experts are split on whether the president should be going at all.

© Provided by The Independent

What’s really behind Biden’s controversial trip to Saudi Arabia

Watch: Biden’s comments on Iran and nuclear weapons

Wednesday 13 July 2022 18:55 , Oliver O’Connell

Click here to read the full blog on The Independent’s website