December 3, 2023

President Biden is holding a joint news conference Thursday in Jerusalem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. It’s the president’s first stop on his trip to the Middle East, his first Middle East trip as president, although he’s visited before as a senator and vice president. 

The press conference is slated to begin at 7 a.m. ET. 

A declaration signed between Mr. Biden and Lapid ahead of the news conference states their intent to never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, reaffirms Mr. Biden’s support of a two-state solution, and includes Israel’s thanks to the U.S. for the Abraham Accords, among other things. 

White House officials have said the point of the Israel stop to is to reaffirm and reinforce the strong ties between that country and the U.S., particularly given global turbulence and challenges in the climate, energy and nuclear spaces. Upon arrival in Israel on Wednesday, the president visited Yad Vashem, the memorial to Holocaust victims in World War II, and received a briefing on Israel’s Iron Dome and Iron Beam air defense systems. 

President Biden hopes to renew Iran nuclear talks during Middle East trip


After the press conference Thursday, Mr. Biden will meet separately with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Later Thursday, he’ll give a pep talk at the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah Games for Jewish athletes from around the world. 

On Friday, the president is expected to speak at the Augusta Victoria Hospital regarding the East Jerusalem Hospital Network and meet with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. 

The president is expected to fly directly to Saudi Arabia, a nod toward the normalization of relations. Mr. Biden plans to meet with the Saudi king and Saudi crown prince while he’s there for the Gulf Cooperation Council summit. 

US President Biden Arrives In Israel
U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid during an arrival ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport on July 13, 2022 in Lod, Israel. Biden will spend two days in Israel, his first visit here as president, before traveling to Saudi Arabia.

Amir Levy / Getty Images

Mr. Biden is expected to bring up Iran extensively in his conversations with leaders in the region, as the U.S. and allies seek to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The president said in an in an interview with an Israeli TV station before leaving on his trip that he would use force against Iran as a “last resort,” when asked about measures he would take to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons program. The president called it a “gigantic mistake” for former President Trump to back out of the deal. 

“Because the only thing worse than the Iran that exists now is Iran with nuclear weapons,” Mr. Biden said in the interview. “And if we can return to the deal and hold on tight, I think it was a gigantic mistake for the last president to get out of the deal. They’re closer to a nuclear weapon now than they were before. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not the police force is gonna stop, is gonna continue to be engaged in activities. We can act against them and still have a deal where they curtail their nuclear program. And so, I still think it makes sense. We’ve laid out at the table. We’ve made the deal. We’ve offered it and it’s up to Iran now.”

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