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What the papers say: Day two of Biden’s Middle East trip

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A round up of the opinion and views published by regional and international media on US president Biden’s trip to the Middle East.

LOCAL PAPERS:

Saudi Arabia’s Arab News: Saudi Arabia, US have chance to reenergise their relationship 

Arab News ran an opinion piece authored by Dr Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg, the GCC assistant secretary-general for political affairs and negotiation, who said that President Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia is likely to mark a new beginning for US engagement with the region, which has waned of late. 

“While the timing may have been prompted by geopolitical and economic crises elsewhere, the visit should not be looked at as a one-off, transactional meeting,” says Dr. Aluwaisheg. “At the heart of this long-standing strategic relationship lies security, both ways. The two countries have been security partners in this region and beyond.” 

Haaretz: ‘Israelis Are Furious’: Netanyahu Loyalists Attack Biden Over East Jerusalem Visit

Israeli right-wing politicians, pundits and activists, some of them with ties to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, have blasted US president Joe Biden over his plan to visit a hospital in East Jerusalem on Friday without any Israeli officials alongside him.

The piece notes how Biden was set to visit the Augusta Victoria Hospital, which is run by German Lutherans and has a strict policy of never allowing Israeli officials to attend media events in order to retain its independence. 

Abu Dhabi’s The National: Carter Doctrine ‘outdated’ as US redefines its role in Middle East

The National ran an opinion piece in which it noted that former president Jimmy Carter’s pledge that the US would intervene militarily if needed to ensure the security of the Gulf is now outdated as US policymakers redefine Washington’s already shrinking role in the region, citing political analysts.

“The common view is that the void left by the US can be filled by joint security and military cooperation between regional powers, which have become increasingly self-reliant amid the reality of an American focus on China and Russia,” said the paper. 

It highlighted how Israel has recently established ties with the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, and re-established relations with Morocco, after the landmark 2020 Abraham Accords that helped reshape Middle East geopolitics and alignments.

GLOBAL PAPERS: 

The FT: Saudi Arabia opens airspace to Israeli flights

The Financial Times states that “US president Biden secures a policy win ahead of his visit to the kingdom later on Friday,” after the news that Saudi Arabia is to open its airspace to all flights to and from Israel.

The piece notes that Biden, who hopes his trip will reset US relations with the Gulf state amid turmoil in the global oil market, hailed the Saudi announcement as a “historic decision” and credited his administration with helping to broker the deal.

Saudi Arabia, however, has held out from joining the 2020 Abraham Accords – the peace accords brokered by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump – signed between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. 

The kingdom, which views itself as the custodian of Islam’s holiest sites and a leader of the Muslim world, has insisted that Israel should settle its conflict with the Palestinians before it could normalise relations with Riyadh. 

Washington Post: Biden calls for ‘full accounting’ of American journalist’s death in Palestinian meeting

The US paper ran a piece focused on Biden’s visit to Palestine, noting how President Biden devoted the last hours of his Israeli visit to restoring the ties with Palestinians severed by his predecessor Trump, visiting a Palestinian hospital Friday in East Jerusalem and crossing an Israeli military checkpoint to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.

The president also called for a full accounting of the May killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during an Israeli raid in the West Bank, the first time he has publicly mentioned the incident during his visit.

Biden’s two events produced no progress toward renewed talks in the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, noted the paper, but the White House did announce a range of measures meant to improve the situation at a time “when Palestinians are hurting,” as Biden said after his meeting with Abbas.

The paper said that Palestinians see Biden’s West Bank visit, slotted between Israel and Saudi Arabia, as a footnote to his priority of deepening Israel’s ties with other Arab nations.

It commented that the president’s meetings with Palestinians follows two days of warm embraces from Israeli officials, during which Biden made his support for the Jewish state clear and laid claim to the label of “Zionist.”

The Times: Biden turns a blind eye to the sins of the Saudis 

The London-based newspaper ran an opinion piece by The Times’ Middle East correspondent Richard Spencer in which he notes that: “Whatever his personal misgivings, the US president will be all smiles when he jets into the kingdom he branded a pariah just two years ago.

“Biden, like many of the presidential candidates campaigning before the last election, pledged to end America’s reliance on the dictatorships of the Middle East for regional security and oil supplies,” notes Spencer. “But as with other presidents before him, he has found himself unable to ignore America’s historic regional alliances quite so easily.” 

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