JERUSALEM — U.S. President Joe Biden received Israel’s Presidential Medal of Honor on Thursday in recognition of 50 years of support for the country in his career as a politician.
Israeli Prime Minister Isaac Herzog praised Biden’s “uncompromising decades-long commitment to Israel’s security” as he presented Biden with the award. Biden called the award a “great honor.”
In brief remarks at the ceremony, Biden, 79, joked that “it’s hard to say these words ‘for over 50 years.’ ”
He noted that the crowd included representatives of all faiths, as well as ambassadors of the Arab countries which have signed peace accords with Israel, noting that 50 years ago such an audience would have been unfathomable.
Biden assured Herzog that “America’s commitment to Israel’s security remains ironclad, today and in the future.”
He added: “That commitment is not about me or any other American president. It springs from a deep affinity and enduring connection between our peoples.”
Biden Dodges Question About Khashoggi
JERUSALEM — President Joe Biden declined to commit to mentioning the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based columnist, when he meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the kingdom.
“I always bring up human rights,” Biden said during a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday. “But my position on Khashoggi has been so clear. If anyone doesn’t understand it, in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else, then they haven’t been around for a while.”
Biden said the purpose of his trip to Saudi Arabia is “broader” and designed to “reassert” U.S. influence in the Middle East. He’s scheduled to attend a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes several Arab nations.
“I want to make clear that we can continue to lead in the region and not create a vacuum, a vacuum that is filled by China and or Russia, against the interests of both Israel and the United States and many other countries,” Biden said.
Khashoggi was a critic of the Saudi regime who wrote for the Washington Post. He was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
His widow recently told Spectrum News that she received a commitment from U.S. officials that Biden would mention him to the crown prince when they meet on Friday.
Differing Views on Iran Nuclear Pact
JERUSALEM — The leaders of Israel and the United States aired their differences on how to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons Thursday even as President Joe Biden pledged America’s “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security.
During a joint news conference in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Isaac Herzog said the international community must be willing to use force against Iran in order to halt its nuclear program.
“The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program, the free world will use force,” he said. “The only way to stop them is to put a credible military threat on the table.”
Biden defended his efforts to rejuvenate the international agreement intended to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, a strategy that Israel opposes.
“I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome,” he said, adding that the U.S. is “not going to wait forever” to rejuvenate the Iran nuclear deal that President Donald Trump abandoned.
They spoke shortly after signing a joint declaration in which the U.S. vowed to use “all elements of its national power” to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
Countries Pledge to Collaborate
JERUSALEM —- The leaders of the United States, India, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday held their first virtual summit as part of a new initiative that’s being called the I2U2, a collection of countries that have pledged greater collaboration.
The idea was hatched last year in Washington, at the home of the U.A.E. ambassador, according to Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
“We sat around the table and spoke about how, after we get control over the pandemic, anyone trying to go back to how things used to be would fail,” Lapid said. “Anyone who understands that we live in a new world with new challenges would succeed and flourish.”
He added that “In the 21st century, challenges are local, but the solutions are global.”
The countries announced that the U.A.E. would finance a $2 billion agricultural project in India, with potential help from U.S. and Israeli companies.