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The Latest: Biden and Lapid have split over how to stop Iranian nuclear weapons

JERUSALEM– The latest on US President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East (all local times):

JERUSALEM — Leaders of Israel and the United States on Thursday expressed their disagreements over how to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, despite President Joe Biden pledged America’s “iron commitment” to Israel’s security.

During a joint press conference in Jerusalem, the Israeli prime minister said the international community must be ready to use force against Iran to stop its nuclear program.

“The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program, the free world will use force,” he said. “The only way to stop them is to put a credible military threat on the table.”

Biden defended his efforts to renew the international deal designed to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, a strategy Israel opposes.

“I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome,” he said, adding that the US “won’t wait forever” to revive the Iran nuclear deal that President Donald Trump abandoned .

They spoke shortly after the signing of a joint statement in which the US vowed to use “all elements of its national power” to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Biden travels to Saudi Arabia on Friday to cement Israel’s burgeoning ties with the Arab Gulf states and strengthen a nascent regional alliance against Iran.

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JERUSALEM – The niece of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh says US President Joe Biden should meet with her family to hold Israel accountable for her death.

“We want him to hear personally our demands, our concerns, and our demands for accountability and justice,” Lina Abu Akleh told CBS Mornings on Thursday.

Abu Akleh’s family has slammed a Foreign Ministry investigation that concluded Israeli gunfire was likely responsible for the journalist’s death in the West Bank. However, the US government said it sees no reason to believe the shooting was intentional.

Abu Akleh was killed while covering an Israeli military attack on the Jenin refugee camp. She was wearing a blue bulletproof vest, which she identified as a media representative at the time.

“We seek accountability not just for the soldier who killed Shireen, but for the entire chain of command that gave the order,” she said.

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JERUSALEM – The United States says it stands ready to use “all elements of its national power” to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb.

The US made the pledge in a joint statement with Israel on Thursday, reaffirming its “unbreakable ties” and an American commitment to Israel’s security.

The joint statement was released after a meeting between visiting US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem.

The US has long stated that it would be willing to use force against Iran as a last resort. But the harsh language in Thursday’s statement, which comes while Biden stood alongside Israel’s leader, has symbolic significance.

Biden travels to Saudi Arabia on Friday with a mission aimed at strengthening Israel’s burgeoning ties with the Arab Gulf states — part of a larger effort to forge a broad anti-Iran alliance.

Thursday’s statement offered little to the Palestinians. Biden reiterated his commitment to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, but offered no vision of how that might happen. Israel, meanwhile, promised nothing more than to try to improve the Palestinian economy and quality of life.

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JERUSALEM — Leaders of the United States, India, Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday held their first virtual summit under a new initiative called I2U2, a collection of countries committed to greater cooperation.

According to Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, the idea was hatched in Washington last year at the home of the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador.

“We sat around the table and talked about how anyone trying to go back to how it used to be was going to fail after we got the pandemic under control,” Lapid said. “Anyone who understands that we live in a new world with new challenges will thrive and thrive.”

He added: “In the 21st century, the challenges are local, but the solutions are global.”

The virtual summit started more than an hour late and there were some brief technical difficulties at the beginning until the President of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, unmuted it.

“I also hope that our quartet will be an example to those who desire peace and prosperity,” he said in his opening speech.

The countries announced the UAE would fund a $2 billion agricultural project in India, with potential help from US and Israeli companies.

“The more we work together, the more we will see the benefits multiply and grow to fuel our shared commitment to peace, stability and growing prosperity,” Biden said. “They all go together.”

JERUSALEM – President Joe Biden says he is working to foster Israel’s burgeoning ties with Arab partners in the Middle East.

The US President spoke after a meeting with Israel’s interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday in Jerusalem.

“I talked about how important I think it is for Israel to be fully integrated into the region,” Biden said.

Under the Trump administration, Israel made diplomatic deals with four Arab countries known as the Abraham Accords.

Biden hopes to build on those fledgling links when he travels to Saudi Arabia this weekend to meet with Gulf partners. The links are largely based on shared concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and military activities across the region.

Lapid described Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia as “extremely important to Israel.”

Biden also seemed to give a boost to Lapid, who hopes to win a full term in November’s election. “We had a good start to a long, God willing, relationship,” Biden said.

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JERUSALEM – The United Arab Emirates is investing $2 billion to set up food processing centers across India that use climate-friendly technologies to reduce waste and conserve fresh water.

The initiative was announced Thursday ahead of the first virtual leadership meeting of I2U2 – a new grouping of Israel, India, the United States and the United Arab Emirates – looking to spur joint investment in water, energy, transportation, food security and more.

India is providing land for the project. US and Israeli private companies are invited to lend their expertise to the project, which the group said will help maximize crop yields. The group has made tackling food insecurity in the South and Middle East a key objective.

President Joe Biden attends the video meeting from Israel, where he is on the second day of a cyclone visit to the Middle East.

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JERUSALEM – US President Joe Biden has started one-on-one talks with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem.

Their talks are at the heart of a 48-hour visit by the US President aimed at strengthening already strong ties between the two countries.

The leaders are expected to sign a joint statement emphasizing military cooperation and their commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The commitments to Israel could have important symbolic significance ahead of Biden’s meeting with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia this weekend as he seeks to strengthen a regional alliance against Iran.

Thursday’s meeting also gives a boost to Lapid, who is Israel’s interim prime minister until November’s elections. Lapid’s main opponent is former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His joint appearance with Biden could help polish his credentials as a statesman and leader.

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