President Biden landed in Israel on Wednesday for his first trip to the Middle East since taking office. It's a whirlwind four-day trip: Biden is spending two days in Jerusalem for talks with Israeli leaders before meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday in the West Bank. He then heads to Saudi Arabia. But first, Israel: It's his 10th visit to the country. The AP points out Biden is six years older than the country, which was established in 1948. He's met every one of the country's prime ministers since he was first elected as a US senator from Delaware.
- His first visit was in 1973, shortly before Arab nations launched a surprise attack to begin the Yom Kippur War, and he sat down with Golda Meir. In a story that he's told often, Biden recalls Meir chain-smoking cigarettes and showing him maps of the region to explain Israel's precarious security situation. When the meeting ended, Biden says, she told him that Israelis had a "secret weapon" in their battle for survival—"We have nowhere else to go."
- Several more trips followed over the years, although not every one has gone smoothly. His 2010 visit was undermined by an announcement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government that Jewish settlements in the West Bank were being expanded.
- There's unlikely to be such friction with Yair Lapid, the current prime minister. However, Lapid only leads an interim government that was formed when the last one collapsed, and elections are being held in November.
- The BBC reports that Biden's time in Saudi Arabia will probably get the lion's share of attention: On Saturday he's set to controversially meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—who US intelligence says OKed the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi—with one goal being to convince the kingdom to increase global oil supplies.
- CNN notes that Biden will also be doing something he hasn't done before: trumpeting a Trump achievement. He will "embrace the Trump-era Abraham Accords that normalized relations between Israel and several Arab countries." Relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel are at the fore, with sources saying Saudi Arabia is expected to this week open its airspace to all commercial flights in and out of Israel.
- Bethan McKernan digs deeper in a piece for the Guardian, writing, "The fact that [Biden] flies directly to Jeddah [Saudi Arabia] after two days in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories speaks to a significant shift: Israel's transformation from regional pariah to ally for many Arab states."
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