US President Joe Biden will spend two days in Jerusalem for talks with Israeli leaders before meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. His next stop will be Saudi Arabia.
US President Joe Biden is set to arrive in Israel to kick off a high-stakes trip to the Middle East dominated by efforts to persuade Gulf allies to pump more oil and bring Israel and Saudi Arabia closer together.
Air Force One has left the United States and is expected to land at 1230 GMT in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. Biden will spend two days in Jerusalem for talks with Israeli leaders before meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday in the occupied West Bank.
Afterwards, he will take a direct flight from Israel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - a first for an American president - on Friday for talks with Saudi officials and to attend a summit of Gulf allies.
US officials say the trip - Biden's first to the Middle East as president - could produce more steps toward normalisation between Israel and Saudi Arabia, two of America's strongest allies in the turbulent region.
Biden's trip aims to deepen Israel's integration in the region and counter Iran, Russia and China's growing influence in the region.
"This trip will reinforce a vital American role in a strategically consequential region," US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday.
Oil market and the US-Israel Strategic Partnership
Biden, under pressure at home to bring down soaring gasoline prices that have damaged his standing in public opinion polls, is expected to press Gulf allies to expand oil production to help bring down gasoline prices.
A centerpiece of Biden's visit will be talks in Jeddah with Saudi leaders including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In Israel, Biden will meet Israeli leaders seeking to broaden cooperation against Iran and Palestinian leaders frustrated by Washington's failure to curb Israeli aggression. Biden will also meet former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, now the opposition leader.
Biden's talks with Abbas will mark the highest level of face-to-face contact between the United States and the Palestinians since then-President Donald Trump took a tough approach to the Palestinians upon taking office in 2017.
Tensions are high between Israel and Palestinians over the killing of Al Jazeera Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May. Her family has accused the United States of providing impunity for Israel over her killing.
Palestinians want the United States to remove the Palestine Liberation Organization from the US list of terrorist organisations, preserve the historic status quo in Jerusalem and curb illegal Jewish settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli officials said Biden's visit will include what they called the Jerusalem Declaration on the US-Israel Strategic Partnership.
One official said the joint declaration "takes a very clear and united stand against Iran, its nuclear program and its aggression across the region and commits both countries to using all elements of their national power against the Iranian nuclear threat."
Biden is likely to face questions from Israel and from Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates about attempts to revive the Iran nuclear deal.