‘You need not be Jew to be Zionist,’ says Biden on first trip to Israel

Tel Aviv: US President Joe Biden, who is on the first-ever visit to Israel landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on Wednesday and asserted “You need not be a Jew to be a Zionist.”

Marking his first-ever official visit to Isreal as the President of the United States (POTUS) said, “You need not be a Jew to be a Zionist. It’s an honour to once again stand with friends and visit the independent Jewish state of Israel.”

He was greeted on the tarmac by Israeli President Issac Herzog, Prime Minister Yair Lapid and other senior officials, including former Premier Naftali Bennett.

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Biden reminisced briefly about previous visits and relationships with former leaders, and emphasized the deep connections between Americans and Israelis, reported The Jewish Chronicle.

He discussed the continued growth of the bilateral relations between generations, asserting, “The connection between the Israeli people and the American people is bone deep.”

Biden pledged to “fight the poison of antisemitism wherever it rears its ugly head,” noting the “horror” of the Holocaust and his planned visit to Yad Vashem.

The US president then turned to collaboration between the two countries, particularly in the realm of security, saying he will explore cutting-edge Israeli defence systems, the Iron Dome and the brand-new laser-powered “Iron Beam”.

Biden also emphasised his support for a two-state solution, saying that Israel and a Palestinian state is the solution to the conflict in the region, “even though it’s not (feasible in the near term)”.

“We will continue to advance Israel’s integration into the region.. Greater peace, greater stability is critical for all of the people of the region,” he added.

During his visit, Biden will also be meeting the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday in a bid to restart talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, reported Doha News.

He concluded his remarks by saying, “May Israel and the US continue to grow and prosper together for the benefit of the entire world.”

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid called Biden “a great Zionist and one of the best friends Israel has ever known”.

“During your visit we will discuss matters of national security. We will discuss a new security architecture with the nations of the Middle East following the Abraham Accords and we will discuss the need to renew a global coalition that will stop the Iranian nuclear programme,” Lapid added.

Biden hopes to advance Israel’s desire to establish diplomatic relations with the Saudi Arabia which could help the Middle East countries unite against Iran. Israel has already formalized relations with United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

Biden will remain in the country until Friday before travelling to Saudi Arabia.

(Except for the headline, the story has not been edited by Siasat staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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