Older than state of Israel, Joe Biden’s visit means he has met all country’s leaders since 1973

President Joe Biden is six years older than the state of Israel, which was established in 1948, and he’s met every one of the country’s prime ministers since he first became as a US senator in 1973.

He first visited Israel that year shortly before the Yom Kippur War – fought between Israel and Arab nations.

In a story that he has told often, Biden recalls Golda Meir – Israel’s prime minister at the time – chain smoking cigarettes and showing him maps of the region to explain the country’s security.

When the meeting ended, Biden says, she told him that Israelis had a “secret weapon” in their battle for survival, saying “We have nowhere else to go”.

When Biden served as vice president, his 2010 visit was undermined by an announcement from prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government that Jewish settlements in the West Bank were being expanded.

President Joe Biden and Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid, stand in front of Israel’s Iron Dome defence system during a tour at Ben Gurion Airport


After being welcomed by current prime minister Yair Lapid, Biden on Wednesday said: “I’m proud to say that our relationship with the State of Israel is deeper and stronger, in my view, than it’s ever been.”

Mr Lapid only leads an interim government that was formed when the last one collapsed, and elections are being held in November.

Biden will spend two days in talks in Jerusalem before heading to the West Bank.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog welcomed Biden at Ben Gurion International Airport on his “journey of peace” to the region.

Posting a photo of the two presidents on Twitter, Mr Herzog wrote: “Welcome to Israel, our brother Joseph! The people of Israel welcome you with open arms. @JoeBiden, your visit reflects our nations’ profound partnership. I hope your journey of peace, starting here in Israel, helps to lead the Middle East to a future of prosperity and peace.”

Mr Biden will later travel to Saudi Arabia. The administration has been on the defensive over the trip, but says the goal is “to reorient — but not rupture” the United States’ relationship with Riyadh.

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