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During a four-day trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, President Biden will focus on securing oil for US gas pumps, slowing down Iran’s nuclear program and strengthening relations with Saudi Arabia.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

JERUSALEM. President Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday to open four-day visit to the Middle East it will focus on slowing down Iran’s nuclear program, getting oil to US gas pumps, and improving relations with Saudi Arabia.

Nearly 50 years after his first trip to Israel as a newly elected senator, Mr. Biden returned as president for the first time and wasted no time in attempting to reaffirm his continued support for the Jewish state despite friction over his efforts to negotiations on a new nuclear deal with Iran.

“Every chance to return to this great country, where the ancient roots of the Jewish people date back to biblical times, is a blessing, because the connection between the Israeli people and the American people is deep,” Mr. Biden said during a short arrival ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport. “Generation after generation, this bond grows.”

mr. Biden, who has often remarked that he knows every Israeli prime minister since Golda Meir, whom he met on his first trip in 1973, was making his 10th visit to Israel and seemed intent on dispelling the notion that he is less kind. country than his predecessor, President Donald J. Trump, who made support for Israel the cornerstone of his foreign policy.

“In my opinion, our relationship is deeper than ever,” he said. Biden said.

Greeting him as he disembarked from Air Force One, Israeli leaders echoed the sentiment, emphasizing that they view Mr. Biden as a friend and pay little attention to their differences. President Isaac Herzog referred to him as “our brother Joseph”, stating, “You are truly in the family.” Interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid called him “a great Zionist and one of the best friends Israel has ever known.”

“This is a very personal visit,” Mr. Lapid said, “Because your relationship with Israel has always been very personal. Once you called yourself a Zionist. You said that you don’t have to be Jewish to be a Zionist. And you were right.”

Without dwelling on this, Mr. Lapid confirmed that the two leaders will discuss Iran and their joint efforts to expand cooperation between the countries of the Middle East. Once isolated in the region, Israel has become increasingly involved in regional diplomacy after landmark diplomatic deals With three Arab countries in 2020, and officials hope that during Mr. Biden’s visit.

mr. Biden also touched on another area of ​​potential tension, reiterating his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after criticizing his administration’s lack of priority on the issue.

We will discuss my continued support, although I know it is not in the new term, for the two-state solution, which remains, in my opinion, the best way to ensure in the future an equal measure of freedom, prosperity and democracy for both Israelis and Israelis. Palestinians. , “Mr.” Biden said.

Prior to his arrival, the Israeli government made several small gestures to the Palestinians, including granting several new work permits to Gaza residents. But while Mr. Biden visits Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, restoring communications that were severed during the Trump presidency, few expect the visit to bring progress in resolving the dispute.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, played a minor role at the welcoming ceremony. He is now out of office, he is the leader of the opposition, and on Thursday he will have only a short meeting with the president.

But he and Mr. Biden have a cordial, if often fraught, four-decade relationship, and the American leader has made it a habit to look for Mr. Biden. Netanyahu during a group photo for Israeli and US officials. mr. Biden gave Mr. Netanyahu a long and warm handshake, and both men came across as happy to see each other.

The President’s trip comes at a delicate moment in Israeli politics. Fragile ruling coalition recently collapsedleaving Mr. Lapid as acting prime minister until the November elections, in which Mr. Netanyahu hopes to return.

At the end of the reception ceremony, Mr. Lapid joked with him and Mr. Relevant Biden trajectories after the previous meeting between the two in Washington.

He told Mr. Biden, “I don’t know if you remember, but eight years ago we met at the White House when you were vice president. You told me: “If I had hair like yours, I would be president,” to which I replied: “And if I had your height, I would be prime minister.”