In his first visit to Israel as U.S. president, Joe Biden hit notes of loyalty and emotion – expressing his personal connection to the country and why, as a lifelong supporter of Israel, he feels a deep obligation to defend its safety – but also sounded a note of caution about Israel’s path forward.
The president touched on a series of issues ranging from a two-state solution to the Iran deal, from the human rights concerns raised by his administration to the next steps needed to achieve a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
His speech to a joint session of the Knesset emphasized Israel’s security, saying, “I come here to reinforce America’s commitment to a thrive, secure, and democratic Israel. We will never fail to defend Israel’s legitimacy and its right to exist.”
He also made a point to reach out to the Israeli and Palestinian people, emphasizing the shared human ties among them. Referencing his brother and his mother, he said, “I’m inspired by the Israeli people, whose desire for a peaceful life and a strong country are no different than my own family—or yours.”
To the Palestinians, he said, “My message to the Palestinian people is that the United States is here, and we are here to stay. We have not forgotten you.”
The president added that the peace process cannot progress while Israeli-Palestinian tensions remain so high, reaffirming his administration’s view that a two-state solution is the only path to true peace and security for both peoples. He also noted the importance of ensuring that any agreement is “realistic and just and lasting.”
Throughout the speech, Biden emphasized the shared values, interests, and history that the U.S. and Israel share, saying, “From the moment of Israel’s birth, there has been no greater friend and strong ally than the United States of America.”