Photo Credit: The White House
US President Joe Biden, 2021

The Biden Administration has refused to allow Israeli government officials to accompany President Joe Biden on his visit this Friday to the Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives, Israeli journalist Barak Ravid reported Monday for Axios.

Augusta Victoria is a church-hospital complex on the northern side of Mount of Olives in eastern Jerusalem, one of six hospitals in the so-called East Jerusalem Hospitals Network, a network of six Arab hospitals in the Mount of Olives and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods in Israel’s capital.


US officials reportedly said the visit was a “private” one, and thus the presence of Israeli officials was not necessary, Ravid was told by multiple Israeli sources.

But if that is the case, why is Biden expected to announce that his administration is granting 100 million in funding for the Palestinian Authority medical network in the Israeli capital, as was reported by Axios on Sunday?

Predictably, the White House ignored a request for comment.

In response, a senior Israeli official told Axios the issue is a matter of Israeli sovereignty.

Then-President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem in 2017 as the capital of the State of Israel, and less than a year later moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital.

Israeli government officials have subsequently accompanied their American counterparts whenever they visit post-1967 Arab sections of the city.

Augusta Victoria Hospital is located in an area which the Palestinian Authority insists should serve as the capital of its own hoped-for independent sovereign Arab country.

Biden is also expected to meet with Arab activists at the hospital before leaving for a meeting with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, on the southern outskirts of Jerusalem.

Israeli officials are also reportedly debating the merits of granting $5 million in funding to Arab hospitals in “eastern Jerusalem,” according to the report.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.