Biden to visit Israel and Palestinian territories next week

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left and US Vice President Joe Biden meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on January 21, 2015. (Haim Zach/GPO)

UsVice President Joe Biden will arrive in Israel for a two-day visit next week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed Wednesday. He will also visit Ramallah, the White House said.

Talks between Biden and Israeli officials are expected to include further negotiations over a defense aid package and Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Other regional issues, such as fighting in neighboring Syria and including Turkey in a regional Mediterranean bloc, are also expected to be on the agenda.

In a statement, the Government Press Office said Biden’s arrival would not include any fanfare. “His arrival will include leaving the plane, a red carpet and handshakes. There will be no welcoming ceremony and no speeches,” the statement read.

The White House said Biden’s Israel visit will be part of a broader Middle East swing. Traveling with his wife Jill, he will fly to Abu Dhabi and Dubai on March 5, and then to Jerusalem and Ramallah on March 8. On March 10, he will complete the trip in Amman, Jordan.

In Israel, Biden will meet with Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, and in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. In Amman, he he will meet with King Abdullah II “to discuss our joint efforts to defeat ISIL and bring about a resolution to the Syria conflict,” the White House said. “The Vice President will also visit US and Jordanian troops training together as part of our ongoing joint military cooperation.”

US Vice President Joe Biden meets with Israeli president Shimon Peres at Peres' residence in Jerusalem on January 13, 2014. (photo credit: Mark NEYMAN/GPO/Flash 90)

US Vice President Joe Biden meets with Israeli president Shimon Peres at Peres’ residence in Jerusalem on January 13, 2014. (photo credit: Mark NEYMAN/GPO/Flash 90)

Israel and the United States have been seeking to move past deep disagreement over the Iran nuclear accord, which Netanyahu strongly opposed, and work out a new 10-year defense aid package for Israel.

The package is expected to be finalized when Netanyahu visits the US later this month, according to Israeli reports.

Last month, Biden met Netanyahu in Davos, Switzerland, shortly after the US lifted sanctions on Iran as part of a nuclear deal.

The US has sought to allay Israel’s concerns regarding the deal through discussions about a new long-term agreement on US military aid for Israel.

According to Netanyahu’s office, the two discussed security and strategic interests in the Middle East as well as energy.

“The meeting was friendly and warm and took place in an excellent atmosphere,” a Prime Minister’s Office official said at the time.

Biden last visited for the funeral of former prime minister Ariel Sharon in January 2014.

Biden’s visit to Israel in 2010 sparked a diplomatic spat with Washington when then-Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced housing plans in East Jerusalem.

According to a diplomatic cable leaked last month, the episode sparked a rift between Jerusalem and Washington, with Netanyahu then asking European leaders to help patch up ties with US President Barack Obama.

Write a comment

Comments: 0