In October 1973, newly elected Delaware Senator Joe Biden visited Israel on his first official overseas trip and met Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.
The 30-year-old was visibly moved as Meir explained what she said was Israel’s militarily dangerous situation surrounded by “enemy states”, but he cheered up when the Israeli leader revealed what she said was Israel’s secret weapon: The Israelis have nowhere else to go.
Biden has retold this story countless times, describing the event as “one of the most consequential meetings I’ve ever had in my life”.
It marked the beginning of his unwavering support for Israel and close ties with many Israeli leaders since then.
Fast forward 13 years later when Biden delivered an impassioned speech to the US Senate, making it clear that American interests are closely tied to those of Israel.
“It’s about time we stop apologising for our support for Israel,” he told lawmakers in June 1986. “It is the best $3bn investment we make. If there weren’t an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interests in the region.”
The following year marked the beginning of the annual $3bn of military aid Israel continues to receive from the US.
Biden, a self-avowed Zionist, has attended many pro-Israeli lobby group meetings, such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and J Street.
His victory on Saturday over Donald Trump in one of the closest US presidential elections has been received with a sigh of relief from Palestinian officials – not so much for his winning but more for Trump losing.
While former President Barack Obama had a notoriously frosty relationship with Netanyahu, Biden’s personal friendship with the Israeli prime minister stretches back more than three decades.
While Biden is a strong proponent of the two-state solution, he refuses to leverage US aid to Israel in order to pressure it into abiding by international law.
Regarding the normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan, Biden has previously tried to claim credit for sowing the original seeds under Obama’s terms in office. Biden has urged “Arab states to move beyond quiet talks and take bolder steps toward normalisation with Israel”.
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