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Biden to visit Israel next week

Vice President Biden will make a two-day visit to Israel next week, his office announced Wednesday.

The vice president’s trip will take him to Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah next Tuesday and Wednesday, amid a broader Middle East tour that includes stops in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

Biden is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

{mosads}A new U.S.-Israel defense deal is expected to be at the top of the agenda; the current military aid bill is set to expire in 2018.

But the talks have been beset by diplomatic hurdles, including a months-long dispute over the Iran nuclear deal.

Biden last met with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, soon after the U.S. began the process of lifting sanctions on Tehran as part of the nuclear pact.

The Obama administration has sought to allay Israel’s concerns about the agreement, which requires Tehran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Providing a new long-term defense commitment to Israel is part of that effort.

President Obama has long butted heads with the Israeli leader over a litany of issues, such as reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

A dispute erupted during Biden’s visit to Israel in 2010, when Netanyahu announced new settlement construction in the West Bank while he was in the country.

Biden said at the time the move threatened to undermine the U.S.-led peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

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Obama’s first and only visit to Israel as president occurred in 2013.

While in the region, Biden is expected to meet with UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and King Abdullah II of Jordan to discuss the civil war in Syria and the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

— This report was updated at 3:22 p.m.


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