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Biden greeted MBS with a string of handshakes, preferring to do so instead of photographing together

Biden officials said he would avoid handshakes on the trip to Saudi Arabia because of the protocol changes.

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Due to COVID-19, Vice President Biden is expected to avoid handshakes during his Middle East trip.

Aides hope that will also prevent Biden from shaking the hand of the Saudi crown prince, according to a report..

However, after shaking hands with Israelis, questions have been raised about what Biden plans to do in Saudi Arabia.

While visiting Israel on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden was photographed shaking hands with a number of people, defying White House orders to stay away from handshakes while in the region.

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Officials in the White House said the policy was to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in light of the rise of the BA.5 Omicron subvariant, but reports noted that it would also help Biden avoid shaking hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman al-Saud.

On the tarmac, he greeted President Ariel Sharon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a fist bump.

Later, at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem, he was photographed shaking the hand of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Holocaust survivors. His handshakes with former Israeli prime ministers Naftali Bennett and Benjamin Netanyahu were also reported by The New York Times.

On Air Force One before Vice President Joe Biden arrived, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters, “We’re in the phase of the pandemic now where we are seeking to reduce contact.”

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However, he added that it was not an inflexible rule: “No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to cover everything. Basically, that’s just a general rule that we’re adhering to.”

Biden’s team may also want to avoid photos of handshakes for another reason, according to reports. Mohammed bin Salman, the son of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.

According to Politico and The Washington Post, White House aides who want to avoid images of Vice President Joe Biden and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman could benefit from the no-handshake policy.

The Times reported that administration officials were concerned about images of Vice President Joe Biden and the Crown Prince together. According to Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign promises, when elected, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, who has been accused of ordering the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, will be treated as a “pariah” for the killing.

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He broke the no-handshake rule in Israel, so it’s not clear whether Biden will go back to this policy.

It is expected that Biden will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Friday and meet with the crown prince and other Saudi leaders on Thursday, before returning to Israel on Friday. Biden has defended the trip, claiming that it was necessary to alleviate the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of the Ukrainian Republic.

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