The White House ended weeks of speculation on Tuesday by announcing a tour of Mr. Biden to Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia from July 13-16.

This will be his first trip to the Middle East as President of the United States. In addition to his meetings with Israeli, Palestinian and Saudi leaders, Mr. Biden has planned to participate in a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – a diplomatic forum bringing together several Arab countries in the region – in Saudi Arabia.

Observers say Mr Biden should seek to get the Saudis to increase their oil production, in order to stop the rise in fuel prices and inflation in his country where the midterm elections will take place in november. A vote at risk for his Democratic Party.

In Arabia (July 15-16), Joe Biden will meet King Salman and the Crown Prince. With the latter, nicknamed “MBS”, he will notably discuss renewable energies, cybersecurity and food and energy security, according to a press release from the Arabian Embassy in Washington.

“The partnership between our two countries is more essential than ever to the promotion of peace, prosperity and stability in the world”, adds the kingdom.

Whatever the outcome, his meeting with the Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler of the kingdom will mark a controversial shift in US diplomacy.

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden had indeed claimed that the assassination and dismemberment in Turkey in 2018 of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi had made Saudi Arabia a “pariah” country.

US intelligence concluded that “MBS” had “validated” this assassination.

“US policy required a recalibration of relations” after Khashoggi’s murder “but not a breakup,” a senior US official told reporters.

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia has been a strategic partner of the United States for eight decades and that some 80,000 Americans live there.

Executive spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre assured that this visit to the Middle East was “the culmination of several months of diplomacy”, rather than fueled by short-term domestic elements.

Mr. Biden must meet with a dozen leaders during this brief but intense tour, demonstrating “the return of American leadership”, noted a senior American official to the press.

This trip will open with a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. They are expected to discuss US support for the Israeli military, particularly its Iron Dome anti-missile air defense system, amid tensions heightened by the failure to revitalize the major power agreement with Tehran on its nuclear program.

“In Israel, the president is likely to visit an area where these defense systems are in use and discuss the latest innovations between our countries using anti-missile laser technologies and other airborne threats,” the senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. .

“He will reaffirm Israel’s strong commitment to security,” he added.

Biden is also due to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, likely in Bethlehem, the source said.

He will reiterate “his enduring commitment to a two-state solution” for Palestinians and Israelis and work to restore ties with the Palestinian authorities that were “almost severed” under Donald Trump.

– Historic flight –

It is at the end of the tour that the trip must mark history – and cause the most ink to flow: the direct flight between Israel and Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, will be the first of an American president to an Arab country not recognizing the Jewish state from Israeli soil. Its predecessor had made the trip in the opposite direction in 2017.

In Saudi Arabia, he is due to take part in a GCC summit which brings together the leaders of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Leaders from Egypt, Iraq and Jordan are also expected to attend, according to the US official.

A priority of the American head of state will be to maintain the recent truce in Yemen, to stem Iran’s nuclear ambitions, “to advance human rights and ensure global energy and food security”, specified the responsible.

Also on the program: a virtual summit with the other leaders of the group known as I2-U2, namely Israel, India and the United Arab Emirates in addition to the United States.