Gaffe watch: Slips of the tongue, disjointed responses mark Biden appearances in Israel

Biden made several confusing remarks during an interview with an Israeli reporter.

Updated: July 14, 2022 - 11:12pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

President Joe Biden made several notable blunders during his trip to Israel, ranging from mistakes in a formal speech to a confusing exchange with an Israeli reporter.

Giving a preview of his plans in Israel, Biden said, "We’re going to celebrate the ending of people-to-people connection," when he meant to say "enduring."

The president said he planned to visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance center, "to keep alive the truth and honor of the Holocaust — horror of the Holocaust, honor those we lost so that we never, ever forget that lesson, you know."

Israeli News Channel 12 interviewed Biden right before he left the U.S. and aired the conversation the evening that he arrived in Israel. 

Biden said he is committed to reentering the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but "as a last resort" he would use force against the Islamic Republic if it came to it. He also stressed that he would not remove Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps from the foreign terrorist organization list, even if it killed the deal.

Seemingly ignoring the Abraham Accords — the Trump-brokered normalization agreements between Israel and historically hostile Gulf Arab states lauded by experts as one of the biggest peace efforts in Middle East history — Biden said, "With the last administration, we sorta walked away from the Middle East."

While still at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, President Biden spoke about how the U.S. "relationship with the State of Israel is deeper and stronger, in my view, than it’s ever been."

He is visiting at a time when Americans are increasingly viewing Israel less favorably. A Pew Research Center poll showed that 55% of Americans view Israel favorably, down from 61% less than a decade ago.

Reporter Yonit Levy asked Biden about Russia's invasion of Ukraine and related economic concerns.

"When we predicted — I predicted — [Putin] was gonna attack," Biden responded, "others were saying, 'No, he's not going to, he's gonna, I mean, he's gonna invade,' the idea that we would stand by in the West, NATO in particular, and have the largest invasion of physical force in another country since World War II, and stand there, was just not even in the cards." 

Levy asked about how long the invasion would last. "It can take months? It can take years?" she asked the president.

"It could," he responded.

"You think the war could take years to end?" she pressed.

"No, you said that," he replied. "You said it could."

She later asked for his thoughts on a rematch against Trump in 2024.

"I'm not predicting [it], but I would not be disappointed," he said.

Reflecting on when he ran for election in 2020, Biden stated, "I said I was running for three reasons, and no one in my campaign agreed."

After meeting with Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Friday, Biden will visit Saudi Arabia.