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Monday, July 4, 2022

Biden will visit Israel, ‘Pariya’ Saudi Arabia next month

by Aamer Madani, Zeke Miller and Ellen Nickmeyer | The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden confirmed on Tuesday that he will visit Saudi Arabia next month for talks with its leaders, a dramatic change in his stance on the kingdom that he has chosen as a Democratic nominee for the White House. “Promised to make

With the end of the July 13-16 Middle East visit, which includes stops in Israel and the West Bank, Biden is brushing off his adversarial stance against the Saudis’ human rights record. He is looking to rekindle the relationship at a time when America can use help from an oil-rich empire to cushion rising prices at the pump for motorists home and around the world.

Saudi Arabia’s halt will include talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto leader, according to the White House and Saudi officials. US intelligence officials have determined that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

In a brief exchange with reporters on Tuesday, Biden asked about his upcoming trip to Jeddah and said in a statement that his team was “whatever I am doing in the Middle East.”

Human rights advocates and some Democratic allies have cautioned Biden about visiting the kingdom, saying such a visit without achieving human rights commitments would send a message to Saudi leaders that serious rights violations have no consequences. Saudis have been accused of using mass arrests, executions and violence to suppress dissent.

But in a time of skyrocketing gas pump prices, rising concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and China’s continuing concern about expanding its global footprint, Biden and his national security team have determined that the Saudis, especially Crown Prince To free it is not. In America’s interest.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told CNN that Biden has “an uphill task of finding new sources and ways to find new sources and supplies to tackle gasoline prices and reduce inflation in the energy sector.” Is.”

But Durbin said he had “mixed feelings” about the visit, calling the Saudi human rights record an “disgrace”.

2 Republican leader in the Senate accused Biden of paying too little attention to American energy.

John Thune of South Dakota said, “It seems like the Saudis are going to have to go hand in hand to try and get them to increase energy production because we won’t be doing it here, I think it’s unfortunate that an American The President is placed in this place.”

The Saudi embassy in Washington described the visit as a “strengthening of the historic bilateral ties and the prestigious strategic partnership between the two countries” at the King’s invitation.

The White House announced the visit this month after Saudi Arabia helped OPEC+ increase oil production by 648,000 barrels per day in July and August, and the kingdom extended its United Nations-mediated ceasefire in its seven-year war. agreed to do. Yemen Biden called the Saudi cease-fire decision “courageous”. Prince Mohammed, commonly referred to by his initials, MBS, played a “significant role” in expanding the ceasefire, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said King Salman invited Biden to visit the kingdom during a gathering in the port city of Jeddah in the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. invited to. As well as Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.

He suggested Biden would raise human rights concerns with Saudi officials but did not directly answer whether the president would speak to Prince Mohammed about Khashoggi’s killing.

“It is also important to emphasize that when we recalculate relationships, we do not want to break relationships,” said Jean-Pierre. “But human rights issues, human rights conversations[are]something that the president brings with a number of leaders and plans to do so.”

Hala al-Dosari, a prominent rights advocate in Saudi Arabia who is now living and teaching in the United States, said Biden’s decision to meet with the crown prince “is a betrayal.” He also raised concerns that Biden’s visit to Israel reflects last month’s fatal shooting of prominent US-Palestinian Al Jazeera journalist Shirin Abu-Akle in the West Bank. Independent investigations by the Associated Press and some other news organizations concluded that Israeli fires killed the veteran journalist. Israel has said it will investigate.

Al-Dosari accused the administration of “prioritizing immediate interests over the long-term goals of supporting democratic transitions” and “the immediate interests of securing more oil and supporting Israel” in Arab countries.

Biden’s first stop during the Middle East swing will be in Jerusalem for a long-planned visit with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. He will then meet Palestinian Authority leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank. Biden will conclude the whirlwind tour with a visit to Jeddah.

Israel’s visit comes at a difficult time for Bennett’s fragile coalition, as he tries to prevent another election and a possible return to power for former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Iran’s nuclear program proceeds.

While in Israel, Biden will participate in a virtual meeting of leaders “I2-U2”, an economic forum established late last year that includes Israel, India, the United Arab Emirates and the US
The presidency in Israel also coincides with the Maccabiah Games, a sporting event that brings together thousands of Jewish and Israeli athletes from around the world. Biden is expected to meet with athletes attending the Games.

Israeli officials in their engagement with the Biden administration have emphasized that US relations with Arab capitals, including Riyadh, are vital to Israel’s security and overall stability in the region. The visit could also provide an opportunity to begin negotiations on what the administration sees as a long-term project to normalize Israel-Saudi relations.

Bennett said in a statement that the visit will “reveal the steps the US is taking to integrate Israel in the Middle East and increase the prosperity of the entire region.”
Meanwhile, the Palestinians will seek progress on reopening the US consulate in Jerusalem. It served Palestinians before the Trump administration shut it down in 2018 and added its work to the US embassy in Jerusalem as part of controversial recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and did not include it in an internationally recognized move. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.
Palestinians also expect the Biden administration to do more to rein in Israel’s settlement building and other unilateral actions that they say are hindering the revival of a long-dormant peace process.

World Nation News Desk
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