Biden invites Netanyahu to meet in US ahead of Herzog visit

President Joe Biden has extended an invitation for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet in the United States at some point in the future on the eve of a visit to the White House by his country’s head of state, President Isaac Herzog.

The invitation was first announced by Mr Netanyahu’s office, which said it came during what it described as a “long and warm conversation” between the two leaders, who have known each other for decades dating back to Mr Netanyahu’s first stint as Israel’s head of government in the 1990s.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby confirmed that Mr Biden had asked Mr Netanyahu to meet at Monday’s daily press briefing.

Mr Kirby told reporters that the two leaders had “talked about a broad range of global and regional issues of mutual concern” during their conversation, and said Mr Biden had “underscored his ironclad unwavering commitment to Israel’s security” and “condemned recent acts of terror against Israeli citizens”.

“The two consulted on our close coordination to counter Iran, including through regular and ongoing joint military exercises. They noted that us that the US Israel partnership remains a cornerstone in preventing Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon,” he said.

The White House spokesperson also said Mr Biden had “stressed the need to take measures to maintain the viability of a two state solution and to improve the security situation in the West Bank” and told reporters that the president also “welcomed Israel’s willingness to consider new steps to support Palestinian livelihoods and recognised promising steps by the Palestinian Authority … to reassert security control in Jenin and other areas of the West Bank”.

Mr Kirby also said that Mr Biden had used the call to address concerns about the judicial reform plan being considered by Mr Netanyahu’s government, and stressed that the president had “reiterated” comments about “the need for the broadest possible consensus” because “shared democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the US Israel relationship”.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr Biden’s invitation to the Israeli head of government included the possibility of a visit to the White House. While one of Mr Netanyahu’s predecessor, Naftali Bennett, visited the White House for bilateral talks with Mr Biden in August 2021, Republicans have complained that Mr Biden’s failure to extend the same courtesy to Mr Netanyahu meant the president was disrespecting the Israeli leader and showing disdain for Israel.

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