US president Biden hosts Israeli President Isaac Herzog ahead of elections

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President Joe Biden was to host Israel’s President Isaac Herzog at the White House on Wednesday for a meeting expected to focus on Mideast tensions and Ukraine shortly before US and Israeli elections.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the meeting in the Oval Office will “underscore the enduring partnership and friendship between the United States and Israel.”

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The visit comes amid tension over the future of Iran’s nuclear activities, with the Biden administration trying to salvage a deal that would reinstate international control over the civilian program in exchange for sanctions relief. Israel opposes the push.

In addition to tensions over Iran and the grinding violence between Israel and the Palestinians, the two leaders are expected to discuss a recent diplomatic success in the US-brokered deal to establish an agreed sea boundary between Israel and Lebanon, Jean-Pierre said.

Ukraine, where the US is leading an international effort to help the pro-Western country fight back against Russia’s invasion, could also feature.

Israel has been reluctant to get involved. However, on Tuesday Herzog met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and announced he was sharing intelligence to prove that Iran has been supplying military drones to Russian forces in Ukraine.

“Iranian weapons play a key role in destabilizing our world, and the international community must learn its lessons, now and in the future,” Herzog said.

Blinken, meanwhile, weighed in on violence in the occupied West Bank, where major Israeli raids on Tuesday targeting a militant group killed six Palestinians, bringing thousands of mourners into the streets.

The top US diplomat said he would speak to Herzog about “the real concern that we have about violence that we’re seeing on the West Bank.”

Herzog’s visit comes days ahead of Israel’s fifth election in less than four years in which hawkish ex-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had tense relations with Democratic US administrations, is seeking a comeback.

It also comes less than two weeks before Americans vote in the midterm elections that are predicted to strip Biden’s Democrats of their control of Congress.

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