White House postpones Biden trips to Saudi Arabia and Israel
President Joe Biden’s planned visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel later this month have been postponed until July. Israel's political instability justifies Biden's wait for a more stable timing, and the violent tensions between Israel and the Palestinians force Saudi Arabia to postpone the outing of the good old love affair with Israel.
The reason for the delay wasn’t immediately clear, but it can be assumed that the political instability in Israel has a great contribution to make in the decision to postpone the visit until the government there stabilizes. While Biden is very supportive of the current government in Israel, he may suddenly find himself visiting a prime minister who is not his cup of tea, instead of Naftali Bennett or Yair Lapid (our assessment is that the current government will remain in power much longer than it currently appears).
Another auspicious reason for postponing the visit is that apparently Biden planned to present a joint victory picture in the form of Trump's Abraham agreements, between Saudi Arabia and Israel. But the assassination of al-Jazeera journalist by Israel, the violent riots in the Muslim holy mosque and the controversial flag parade do not allow Saudi Arabia to show unity with the Israeli regime at the current problematic timing.
The White House is now planning a broader trip to the Middle East next month, sources said.
“We are working on a trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia for a GCC+3 Summit,” a senior administration official said. “We are working to confirm dates. When we have something to announce, we will.”
A foreign diplomat and two U.S. officials said the Saudi stop will no longer take place in late June, and two U.S. officials said the trip to Israel was also being pushed back. Both visits had been expected to be tacked on to Biden’s previously scheduled trip to Germany and Spain this month..
The foreign diplomat and two officials said they learned of the postponed travel plans on Friday. The U.S. officials added that the dates remained in flux and could change again.
The White House declined to comment on the travel itinerary. The Israeli and Saudi embassies in Washington didn’t immediately respond to inquiries late Friday.
Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. economic and military ally, has traditionally been one of the first foreign stops a president makes in the Middle East. The Biden administration has found it difficult to avoid cooperating with Saudi Arabia given its major role in many of the top foreign policy issues confronting the Biden administration, including Israel-Palestinian tensions and the Iran nuclear deal.
Biden has also been looking for ways to help drive down the price of oil and gas as his administration faces ongoing pressure to do more to lower the price of fuel heading into the midterm elections.
Biden, asked by a reporter on Friday morning about reports of trip to Saudi Arabia, said a stop was possible but that was “not sure whether I’m going.”
“I have been engaged in trying to work with how we can bring more stability and peace to the Middle East. And there is a possibility that I would be going to meet with both the Israelis and some Arab countries at the time, including, I expect, would be Saudi Arabia, would be included in that if I did go,” Biden said. “But I have no direct plans at the moment. We’re looking at it.”