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Killing of Palestinian journalist expected to derail Biden’s trip from its primary objective

Biden will find a ‘changed Middle East’ when he visits the region on Wednesday, according to a The New York Times published a report by  its correspondent in Israel, Patrick Kingsley. Kingsley added that Joe Biden will find a region which has changed in terms of alliances and the priorities of its relationship with the United States. The region has witnessed many transformations ever since his last visit to the middle east, six years ago, when he was Vice President to President Barack Obama.


Biden will start his visit in Israel and makes various stops over the occupied Palestinian territories and before finishing in Saudi Arabia, Washington's most important ally in the Gulf region and an important oil producer.


According to the report, although the peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians was at the center of US foreign policy, Biden will focus on strengthening relations between Israel and its Arab allies and confronting threats from Iran.


When Biden visited Israel in 2016, it had diplomatic relations with only two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, but became attached in the diplomatic field of the Middle East with the added connection to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.


The newspaper quoted the former Israeli Consul General in New York, Alon Pinkas, as saying: “American participation, as well as presidential contacts in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is no longer a priority.”


“The United States turned and returned to the conflict management process, and for this reason the Israeli-Gulf alliance and the anti-Iran alliance became more important to the United States than resolving the conflict,” he said.


Biden and his hosts are expected to discuss strengthening the system of military cooperation between Israel, its new Arab allies, and the US military. This system, which was impossible during Biden's last visit to the region, allows participating militaries to communicate in real time about air threats from Iran and its proxy groups.


On the other hand, US officials stress the Biden administration's commitment to a two-state solution. But, the increase in settlements in the West Bank, Palestinian disputes, and Israel's lack of interest in peace negotiations, all make a Palestinian state a distant hope.


The Biden administration has reintroduced nearly $500 million in aid, including support for the United Nations refugee agency, and has criticized settlement operations that make a two-state solution impossible.


But it failed to reverse decisions made by the administration of Donald Trump, which the Palestinians saw as an attempt to hinder their efforts to build their state. The State Department did not cancel the previous administration's decision to consider the settlements in the West Bank to be legal, despite the world's view that they are illegal.  

Under Israeli pressure, the Biden administration did not reopen the US Consulate in Jerusalem, which Trump closed, and the Palestinian mission in Washington remains closed after Trump’s presidency. The Palestinians expressed their anger last week over the US State Department's report, which considered the killing of the Palestinian-American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, to be an unintended incident and did not pressure Israel to open an official investigation.


Despite the American president’s intentions, his visit risks being caught up in the outrage over the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Al-Jazeera journalist who was shot and killed on May 11th while covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank town of Jenin, despite wearing a protective helmet and a bulletproof vest bearing the word “Press”.


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