US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides confirmed Monday that President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel will go forward as planned, despite the political turmoil in Israel.
The envoy spoke to The Times of Israel shortly after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced that they would be submitting legislation next week to dissolve the Knesset and that the latter would replace the former as interim premier.
If the legislation is passed as expected, Lapid will be prime minister when Biden lands in Israel on July 13 for his first visit as president.
Nides’ comments were consistent with what Biden officials have insisted for weeks — that the president’s visit would go forward regardless of the political situation in Israel.
“We have a strategic relationship with Israel that goes beyond any one government. The president looks forward to the visit next month,” a spokesperson for the US embassy in Israel said in a Monday statement, declining to comment further on the prospects of a fifth Knesset election in roughly five years.
Biden is scheduled to spend two days in Israel and the West Bank before stopping in Saudi Arabia to participate in the annual meeting of the GCC+3 with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan.
An Israeli official told The Times of Israel last week that Biden would meet with Bennett, Lapid, President Isaac Herzog, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. While Bennett will only be assuming the role of alternate prime minister next month if the Knesset is indeed dissolved, he will likely still meet Biden in some capacity given his senior role in the government, a source familiar with the matter speculated.