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👋 Good Thursday morning!

President Joe Biden arrived in Israel yesterday for his 10th trip to the country and his first as president. He was greeted at Ben Gurion Airport by Israeli President Isaac Herzog — who referred to Biden as “our brother Joseph” — Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and ministers from the Israeli government in a festive ceremony including warm and welcoming speeches, as well as a performance by the country’s military band.

Lapid said Biden’s visit was both “historic” and “deeply personal.” “It is historic because it expresses the unbreakable bond between our two countries, Our commitment to shared values: democracy, freedom and the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own,” he said. “It is also a personal visit, because your relationship with Israel has always been personal. You once defined yourself as a Zionist. You said that you don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist.”

Biden recalled his first trip to Israel, in 1973, meeting with then-Prime Minister Golda Meir and with a young Yitzhak Rabin. “I look back on it all now, and I realize that I had the great honor of living part of the great history of this great — and I did say and I say again, you need not be a Jew to be a Zionist,” he said.

Biden immediately received a security briefing from Defense Minister Benny Gantz and inspected Israel’s multi-tiered air-defense capabilities, including its newest system, the Iron Beam. Director General of Israel’s Defense Ministry Maj. Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel also presented the new high-powered laser interception system to Secretary of State Tony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who are both traveling with the president.

Biden then visited Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, where he met with two Holocaust survivors – Rena Quint and Giselle Cycowicz, both U.S. citizens. The president was reportedly teary eyed as he spoke to the two women, ages 86 and 92, respectively.

In an interview with Channel 12’s Yonit Levi, Biden dismissed anti-Israel voices within the Democratic Party. “There are few of them. I think they’re wrong. I think they’re making a mistake. Israel is a democracy. Israel is our ally. Israel is a friend.” Biden added that “there’s no possibility, I think, of the Democratic Party or even a significant portion of Republican Party, walking away from Israel.”

Earlier today, Biden held a bilateral meeting with Lapid and the two signed “The Jerusalem U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Joint Declaration,” affirming the strategic partnership between the two countries, with the U.S. pledging never to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and committing to partnering with other countries to confront Tehran’s aggression and destabilizing activities in the region. In a brief press spray after the meeting, Lapid and Biden joked that they’d only discussed a key issue: baseball.

Biden and Lapid also held the first-ever virtual summit of the I2U2 with the leaders of India and the United Arab Emirates. A statement from the White House noted that the group “aims to harness the vibrancy of our societies and entrepreneurial spirit to tackle some of the greatest challenges confronting our world, with a particular focus on joint investments and new initiatives in water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security.”

Later today, Biden will visit the residence of President Herzog and also meet with opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, before attending the opening ceremony of the 21st Maccabiah Games in the evening.

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