US President Joe Biden aims to ask “difficult questions” but emphasizes his relationship as a “true friend of Israel” when he meets with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, according to a spokesman for the US National Security Council.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters aboard Air Force One that Biden would begin his visit by meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, followed by an expanded meeting with Israel’s war cabinet.
“It’s going to ask some tough questions,” including about “where they think they’re going,” Kirby said.
“He will ask as a friend, a true friend of Israel,” Kirby added.
According to Kirby, Biden plans to emphasize that he does not want the conflict to expand. Kirby said it also aims to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza and raise the hostage issue.
He is scheduled to meet Biden during his visit Israeli first responders as well as families of the victims and people still missing or being held hostage, although Kirby could not determine whether these were American or Israeli families.
Biden is also scheduled to deliver remarks and meet with Israeli President Herzog before his departure.
On his trip home, Biden plans to speak with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Sisi on the return flight, instead of the scheduled summit in Jordan, which was canceled after a deadly hospital explosion in Gaza on Tuesday.
Some context: Biden’s wartime arrival in Tel Aviv represents the strongest public show of support for Israel since the October 7 attacks by Hamas that left 1,400 Israelis — and dozens of Americans — dead. Other Americans, along with many Israelis, are also being held hostage by Hamas. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza announced on Tuesday that at least 3,000 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the fighting began.
Biden’s visit came less than a day after a horrific explosion occurred at the Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City. Palestinian officials said hundreds were killed in the explosion in the city center and blamed Israel. The Israelis denied responsibility and blamed a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement.
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