The U.S. has rejected Israel’s request to allow Israeli officials to escort President Joe Biden’s contentious visit to eastern Jerusalem on Friday, marking a major departure from previous U.S. policy.
Biden’s visit to Augusta Victoria Hospital in eastern Jerusalem marks the first time a sitting U.S. president has visited Palestinian Authority institutions and has prompted an outcry among conservative groups.
Israel requested that Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz or another official from the Ministry of Health accompany Biden on the visit, but was denied, the the Axios news site reported citing four Israeli officials.
In 2018, former president Donald Trump’s recognized all of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and Israeli officials have always accompanied American diplomats as well as presidential visits.
Former U.N. envoy Danny Danon said that Biden’s visit was “an attempt to undermine Israel’s sovereignty over its own capital” and would undo Trump’s 2018 recognition.
“Such a visit will affirm false hopes and narratives of the possibility of removing Jews from their capital and homeland,” Danon wrote in an open letter to Biden published in The Jewish Press.
Matan Peleg, CEO of the nationalist advocacy group Im Tirtzu, said the visit was an “insult” to Israel’s sovereignty and independence.
Israeli media reported Biden will also announce $100 million in aid for the Palestinian Authority while he visits the hospital.
After the visit, Biden will continue onto the West Bank city of Bethlehem to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israel Police also denied a petition by right wing groups to hold a protest during Biden’s visit.