NEW ONESYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan announced Wednesday that President Biden would not shake hands during this week’s trip to the Middle East due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not long after, however, Biden met former Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and shook hands with him.
Sullivan had discussed the policy while addressing reporters aboard Air Force One ahead of the president’s arrival in Israel, the first stop of the trip.
“I think the easiest way for me to put it is that we are now in a phase of the pandemic where we want to increase masks, reduce contact and minimize spread,” Sullivan said.
While Sullivan acknowledged that “exactly how that plays out in a particular interaction is something we’ll see,” the general contactless policy is a shift in protocol, as the president had participated in handshake sessions with people in the White House over the past few years. two days.
BIDEN GOES MIDDLE EAST TO PICK IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL FOR UNSENSITIVE ISRAELL, SAUDI ARAB
However, Sullivan insisted the change is “not abnormal” as precautions are being taken on overseas trips like Biden’s. He did note that the president tested negative for COVID-19 prior to Wednesday morning’s flight.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later supported this, stating that the decisions are made by Biden’s doctor. Citing the spread of the ommicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants, she said that “it is reasonable to expect him to take additional precautions.”
OIL, IRAN AND NORMALIZATION ABOVE THE AGENDA AS BIDEN ENTERS THE JOURNEY TO ISRAELL AND SAUDI ARABI
A reporter, citing Biden shaking hands on the South Lawn of the White House, asked if the precautionary handshake wasn’t a new policy change and if it had something to do with concerns about seeing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin shake hands. salman. Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia from Israel later this week, meeting the Crown Prince and his father, King Salman.
“This is up to his doctor,” Jean-Pierre insisted, claiming that this is not an official policy change, but merely an effort “to minimize contact as much as possible.”
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
“We want to make sure that we take those precautions to protect him and to protect all of us, and we want to be very clear about that,” she added.
When he stepped out of Air Force One, Biden was greeted by several Israeli officials. Though he didn’t shake hands with them, the president punched nearly all of them and placed a hand on their shoulders as he said a few words to each of them.
Then he and Netanyahu shook hands.