Biden news – live: MBS hits back at President over Jamal Khashoggi murder

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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 14:11

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fired back at President Joe Biden when he was confronted about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during the highly controversial meeting between the two leaders.

A source said that – when confronted about ordering the death of Saudi dissident and Washington Post journalist Khashoggi – MSB brought up two incidents that he said reflected badly on the US: the US military abuse of prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Mr Biden told reporters that he had pressed MBS about Khashoggi’s “outrageous” murder during a wide-ranging meeting between US and Saudi top officials.

“I made my view crystal clear … for an American president to be silent on an issue of human rights is inconsistent with who we are and with who I am,” he said.

This came after Mr Biden came under fire for fist-bumping the man believed to have ordered the death of Khashoggi.

The president’s Middle East trip also continued on Saturday with a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Kadhimi in Jeddah where they discussed the two nations’ bilateral partnership and their determination to ensure that ISIS can never resurge.

Key points

  • Biden says he took MBS to task over journalist’s murder in Saudi Arabia
  • 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

Russian officials visited Iran to examine drones, White House says

14:10 , Rachel Sharp

Russian officials visited Iran on at least two separate occasions to examine drones that they are considering using for its war on Ukraine, according to the White House.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Saturday that US intelligence shows a Russian delegation visited an Kashan airfield in central Iran on June 8 and July 5.

During the visit, the Iranian military showed them the Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones.

CNN first reported the incidents along with a satellite image of the UAVs in flight at the airfield while a Russian delegation transport plane was on site.

Mr Sullivan said the visits suggest “ongoing Russian interest” in procuring the “attack-capable” UAVs or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

“We have information that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs,” Mr Sullivan said.

“We assess an official Russian delegation recently received a showcase of Iranian attack-capable UAVs.

“We are releasing these images captured in June showing Iranian UAVs that the Russian government delegation saw that day. This suggests ongoing Russian interest in acquiring Iranian attack-capable UAVs.”

He added: “To our knowledge, this is the first time a Russian delegation has visited this airfield for such a showcase.”

MSB fired back at Biden when he raised Khashoggi’s murder

13:51 , Rachel Sharp

The Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fired back at President Joe Biden when he was confronted about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a report.

A source familiar with the controversial meeting between the two leaders told CNN that MSB responded by bringing up the US military abuse of prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

The source said that MSB told Mr Biden that the two incidents reflected badly on the US.

Back in 2004, graphic photos emerged from the Abu Ghraib prison showing US military personnel torturing and sexually abusing Iraqi prisoners captured and held there at the start of the US invasion of the country. The photos eventually led to the conviction of 11 US soldiers.

Meanwhile, Abu Akleh was shot and killed back in May while she was covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank.

The US has come under fire for its response to her death, with the journalist’s family and Palestinian officials urging officials to hold Israel to account.

On Friday, Mr Biden visited the West Bank alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas where he insisted that the US was committed to gettign a “full and transparent accounting” of her killing.

The Saudi crown prince raised the two incidents after the US president told him he believes he is responsible for ordering the murder of Khashogg – something that US intelligence has shown. MSB denied responsibility.

Biden told he ‘cannot buy solution’ to Palestine occupation

12:00 , Oliver O’Connell

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 $300 million (£250m) in aid.

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

Lamiat Sabin reports.

© Provided by The Independent

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

ICYMI: Biden’s arrival in Saudi Arabia makes history

10:30 , 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.

Nevertheless he was the first US president to make such a trip.

© Provided by The Independent

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

Ilhan Omar says Saudi trip ‘sends wrong message’ on human rights

09:00 , Oliver O’Connell

Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota criticised President Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia, saying it sends the wrong message about the United States’ position on human rights.

The Minnesota Democrat and member of the Squad, who is a refugee from Somalia, said Mr Biden’s trip goes back on his word that he would make Saudi Arabia a “pariah nation” after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Eric Garcia reports from Capitol Hill.

© Provided by The Independent

Omar says Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia: ‘sends the wrong message’

As Biden visits Saudi Arabia, many still targeted by official clampdown

07:30 , Oliver O’Connell

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reputation as a brazen leader who has ruthlessly silenced critics and dissent will cast a shadow over his meeting on Friday with US President Joe Biden.

The royal has sidelined top princes who could pose a threat and overseen Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. The 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul still looms large — though the prince is credited with pushing through once-unthinkable changes, allowing women to drive and travel freely, permitting concerts, opening movie theaters and de-fanging the once-feared religious police.

Read more:

© Provided by The Independent

As Biden visits, a look at those targeted in Saudi Arabia

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

06:00 , Oliver O’Connell

It was reported on Thursday that President Joe Biden 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 demilitarised zone since Egypt and Israel signed the 1979 peace treaty negotiated with the help of then-president Jimmy Carter.

© Provided by The Independent

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

Mr Biden later issued the following statement before flying to Saudi Arabia on Friday:

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 hails Trump-era Abraham Accords during trip to Israel

04:00 , 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.

“We will also continue building on the Abraham Accords, which I strongly support because they deepen, they deepen Israel’s integration into the broader region and establish lasting ties for business, cooperation, and tourism,” Mr Biden said during a press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

© Provided by The Independent

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

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

03:00 , Oliver O’Connell

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.

Khashoggi fiancee criticizes Biden visit

02:00 , 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 U.S. president of backing down from his pledge of prioritizing 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 says he’ll take action on climate change if Senate bill fails

01:00 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden said that he would take executive action on climate change if Democrats’ proposed spending bill doesn’t include clean energy provisions, but he did not mention Senator Joe Manchin, who has been vocal about his opposition to a larger bill including climate provisions and tax increases.

The president is currently traveling in the Middle East while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer negotiates with Mr Manchin.

Eric Garcia reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden says he’ll take action on climate if Senate doesn’t as Manchin says wait

Biden’s weekend schedule

Saturday 16 July 2022 00:00 , Oliver O’Connell

All times Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

11amThe president participates in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi of Iraq

11.40amThe president participates in a bilateral meeting with President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Egypt

12.15pmThe president participates in a bilateral meeting with Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates

12.45pmThe president attends a GCC +3 Leaders Welcome Reception

12.55pmThe president participates in a family photo with GCC +3 leaders

1.15pmThe president attends the GCC +3 Summit Meeting

3pmThe president participates in a working lunch

4.45pmThe president departs Jeddah, Saudi Arabia en route Mildenhall, United Kingdom, for a refuelling stop before proceeding on to Washington, DC, with expected arrival time of 12.40am ET on Sunday.

Biden hints at news about oil prices during speech from Saudi Arabia

Friday 15 July 2022 23:30 , Josh Marcus

Joe Biden is hinting that a major announcement could come from the Saudis in regards to the oil supply in the coming weeks.

The president said on Friday he had a “good discussion” with the Saudis, who “share that urgency” to address oil supply and gas price issues that have challenged the US and beyond.

“Based on our discussion today, I expect we’ll see further steps in coming weeks,” he said during remarks from Jeddah.

John Bowden has a preview of what that might look like.

© Provided by The Independent

Will Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia affect US gas prices?

More on the moment reporter asked MBS to apologise to Khashoggi family

Friday 15 July 2022 23:15 , Josh Marcus

Peter Alexander, NBC News’ chief White House correspondent, was the reporter who shouted the questions to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as to whether he would apologise to the family of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

According to Mr Alexander and other reporters in the room, the crown prince kept his eyes down and a smirk crossed his face.

THe White House press pool was given access to an extended portion of the meeting between President Joe Biden and MBS and their advisers.

Microphones at the meeting table were not turned on and the press was kept at a distance making it difficult to hear what the two men said.

In pictures: Biden meets with Saudi leaders at Al Salam Royal Palace

Friday 15 July 2022 23:00 , Oliver O’Connell

Hanan Elatr Khashoggi thanks Biden for raising her late husband’s murder with MBS

Friday 15 July 2022 22:45 , Oliver O’Connell

Statement from Mrs. Hanan Elatr Khashoggi regarding the meeting of President Biden with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman:

I would like to thank President Biden for raising my husband, Jamal Khashoggi’s murder with the Crown Prince. He raised it first and foremost and for that I am grateful. I also would like to thank President Biden for fulfilling Jamal’s true legacy, which is to highlight the issue of human rights and political prisoners. This meeting was the beginning of accountability for my husband’s murder. Through the American justice system I along with my legal team intend to hold all parties accountable for the murder of my husband.

Biden remains committed to two-state solution

Friday 15 July 2022 22:30 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden has said he remains committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even if “the ground is not ripe” to restart negotiations between the two parties.

Speaking in Bethlehem alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday, Mr Biden said “two states” — one Israeli, one Palestinian — established along Israel’s 1967 borders with “mutually agreed-to [land] swaps” remains the “best way to achieve equal measures of security, prosperity, freedom and democracy for the Palestinians as well as Israelis”.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden says he remains committed to two-state solution during West Bank visit

Watch: Biden on MBS and Khashoggi murder

Friday 15 July 2022 22:24 , Oliver O’Connell

Earlier: Biden told he ‘cannot buy solution’ to Palestine occupation

Friday 15 July 2022 22:00 , Oliver O’Connell

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 pledgingmore than $300 million (£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.

Lamiat Sabin reports for The Independent.

© Provided by The Independent

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

Biden hails Saudi normalisation steps with Israel over airspace

Friday 15 July 2022 21:45 , Josh Marcus

President Biden said it is a “big deal” that “many monthys of quiet diplomacy” have resulted in Saudi Arabia opening its air space to flights from Israel.

“That is a big deal, not only symbolically, but also substantively it’s a big deal,” the president said on Friday. “It means Saudi air space is now open to flights to and and from Israel. It’s the first tangible step on a path on what I hope is braoder normalisation of relations.”

‘What happened to Kashoggi was outrageous’: Biden says he took MBS to task over journalist’s murder in Saudi Arabia

Friday 15 July 2022 21:29 , Josh Marcus

President Joe Biden’s first day in Saudi Arabia ended with him unable to avoid a moment he and his advisers had taken great pains to avoid: A televised fist-bump with the man who ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Kashoggi.

The brief encounter between Mr Biden and Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince who is widely known by his initials, MBS, took place not long after Mr Biden’s arrival in the kingdom for two days of meetings with Saudi officials and leaders from across the Gulf region.

White House officials had hoped to avoid any image of Mr Biden engaging in a handshake or any sort of greeting with MBS by claiming at the outset of the trip that the nearly 80-year-old president would be eschewing handshakes as a precaution due to rising Covid-19 cases in the region. But Mr Biden scuttled that plan within minutes of his arrival in Israel for the first leg of his trip when he greeted the Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu with a hearty grip-and-grin.

Upon his arrival in Jeddah, the first item on Mr Biden’s agenda was a bilateral meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. But the president was greeted instead by MBS. Presented with the choice between the handshake he wanted to avoid and further upending the US-Saudi relationship, the president chose to compromise with a Covid-conscious fist-bump.

Andrew Feinberg with the full report.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden says he took MBS to task over journalist’s murder on first day in Saudi Arabia

Joe Biden laughs off criticisms of fist bump with Saudi crown prince

Friday 15 July 2022 21:11 , Josh Marcus

Joe Biden flashed a big grin on Friday when reporters asked him if he regretted fist-bumping Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman upon arriving in the country.

Intelligence officials believe Mr bin Salman ordered the gruesome 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and Washington Post writer who was a US permanent resident.

Mr Biden said he pressed Saudi officials including MBS about what happened to Khashoggi to open a meeting officials had on Friday.

“I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time and what I think of it now,” he said. “I was straightforward and direct in discussing it. I made my view crystal clear. I said very straightforwardly, for an American president to be silent on the issue of human rights is inconsistent with who we are and who I am. I’ll always stand up for our values.”

Top Democrat slams Biden fist bump

Friday 15 July 2022 20:50 , Oliver O’Connell

Democratic California Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who has been outspoken regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, slammed the president’s fist bump with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

In rare criticism of the Joe Biden from a top House Democrat, Mr Schiff tweeted: “If we ever needed a visual reminder of the continuing grip oil-rich autocrats have on US foreign policy in the Middle East, we got it today.”

He added: “One fist bump is worth a thousand words.”

President Biden offers remarks on Saudi Arabia trip

Friday 15 July 2022 20:48 , Josh Marcus

President Biden is now giving a speech about his Saudi Arabia trip.

Watch his remarks live here, via the White House.

Washington Post publisher calls fist bump ‘shameful’

Friday 15 July 2022 20:26 , Oliver O’Connell

Fred Ryan, Publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, has joined the chorus of condemnation President Joe Biden is facing for his fist bump with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In a statement he said:

The fist bump between President Biden and Mohammed bin Salman was worse than a handshake–it was shameful. It projected a level of intimacy and comfort that delivers to MBS the unwarranted redemption he has been desperately seeking.

Saudi Press Agency posts photos of Biden talks

Friday 15 July 2022 20:15 , Oliver O’Connell

Biden to address reporters at 3.30pm ET

Friday 15 July 2022 20:08 , Oliver O’Connell

Biden departs palace after almost three hours

Friday 15 July 2022 20:04 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden has departed the Al Salam Royal Palace after two hours and fifty minutes of talks with Saudi leaders.

His next event will be tomorrow when he attends the Gulf Cooperation Council +3 summit, comprising of the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, plus Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt.

Why Biden change his mind about making Saudi Arabia a ‘pariah nation’?

Friday 15 July 2022 19:30 , Oliver O’Connell

Joe Biden could not have been any clearer.

The administration of Donald Trump, it was put to him by a questioner, had failed to punish Saudi Arabia for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. If anything, it had cemented its ties, with Trump bowing before the Saudi king to receive a heavy and pendulous gold necklace, the Collar of Abdulaziz al Saud no less.

If he was president, what would Biden do? Would he punish the Saudi leaders?

“Yes. And I said at the time, Khashoggi was in fact murdered and dismembered, and I believe on the order of the crown prince [Mohammed bin Salman],” he said with no small steel to his voice.

“I would make it very clear, we were not going to sell more weapons to them. We are going to make them pay the price, and make them in fact, the pariah that they are.”

So what changed?

Andrew Buncombe reports for The Independent.

© Provided by The Independent

Why did Joe Biden change his mind about making Saudi Arabia as ‘pariah nation’

Khashoggi fiancé posts what she believes he would tweet today

Friday 15 July 2022 19:10 , Oliver O’Connell

Hatice Cengiz, the fiancé of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has tweeted out what she believes he would have posted having seen President Joe Biden meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“Hey POTUS, Is this the accountability you promised for my murder? The blood of MBS’s next victim is on your hands.”

Will Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia affect US gas prices?

Friday 15 July 2022 19:00 , Oliver O’Connell

As Joe Biden embarked on a multi-issue mission to the Middle East, his first as president, one persistent problem for his administration was weighing heavily both on the minds of White House staff and the media: oil prices.

What are the prospects for any material impact at the pump?

© Provided by The Independent

Will Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia affect US gas prices?

As Biden visits Saudi Arabia, many still targeted by official clampdown

Friday 15 July 2022 18:30 , Oliver O’Connell

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reputation as a brazen leader who has ruthlessly silenced critics and dissent will cast a shadow over his meeting on Friday with US President Joe Biden.

The royal has sidelined top princes who could pose a threat and overseen Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. The 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul still looms large — though the prince is credited with pushing through once-unthinkable changes, allowing women to drive and travel freely, permitting concerts, opening movie theaters and de-fanging the once-feared religious police.

Read more:

© Provided by The Independent

As Biden visits, a look at those targeted in Saudi Arabia

Biden and MBS ignore press questions, report says

Friday 15 July 2022 17:55 , Oliver O’Connell

A report from Jeddah states that at the beginning of the meeting both President Biden and Mohammed bin Salman ignored two shouted questions from the press pool.

“Will you apologise to Khashoggi’s family?”

“Is Saudi Arabia still a pariah?”

Saudi Foreign Ministry posts welcome photos

Friday 15 July 2022 17:27 , Oliver O’Connell

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

Biden fist bumps MBS

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 16:18 , Oliver O’Connell

Biden lands in Saudi Arabia after historic flight

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 13:54 , Oliver O’Connell

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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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’

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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’

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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?

Friday 15 July 2022 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?

Friday 15 July 2022 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

Friday 15 July 2022 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

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