President Joe Biden's trips to Saudi Arabia and Israel that had been planned for later this month have been postponed until at least July, but dates have not yet been confirmed, according to administration officials.
"We are working on a trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia for a GCC+3 Summit," a senior administration official told NBC News this weekend. "We are working to confirm dates. When we have something to announce, we will."
Sources said the White House is planning a more broad trip to the Middle East. The visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel were to be added to Biden's trips to Germany and Spain this month.
The administration didn't make it immediately clear why the trips were delayed, but Dan Arbell, a scholar-in-residence at the Center for Israel Studies at American University told The Jerusalem Post that the administration is claiming "technical-logistical reasons," but said more may be in play.
"One cannot help feeling that the White House wants to see if the Bennett-Lapid government survives for a few more months or if new elections are called," he said. "The Israeli political picture will be clearer in July, and it'll give the administration more time to prepare the visit and decide on its messaging."
Further, as the visit to Israel is tied to other stops, "it gives the White House more time to try and arrange a regional leaders summit or moves which would broaden and deepen the Abraham Accords," he said.
Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington commented that Biden "has an awful lot on his plate at the moment," and that "economic woes and divisive domestic politics are front and center."
Schanzer added that for Biden's Middle East trips to be successful, he'll need "real wins" that he can sell "to a beleaguered and disillusioned American public. Such wins, whether steps toward normalization or long-term energy guarantees or something else, could take more than a few short weeks to lock down."
Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to Washington, however, said that there are many considerations at play, including the domestic situations going on in the United States.
He agreed that the Israeli issues may also be a concern, as Biden may hesitate to visit a country "where the current government may [no] longer be in office."
Meanwhile, Biden's visit to Riyadh may be unprecedented, as it will mark the first time the president will meet one-on-one with Saudi's Prince Mohammad bin Salman, also known as MBS.
But Dan Shapiro, the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, said that by postponing the visits, Biden will be able to give the Middle East agenda his full attention.
This way, Biden can also focus more on Ukraine and Europe at the G7 and NATO summits later this month, Shapiro said.
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