During a phone call on Sunday, U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly discussed Middle East security and the Netanyahu government’s ongoing, controversial judicial reforms.
Direct communication between Biden and Netanyahu reportedly has been sparse since Netanyahu won the Israeli election last November, despite the two knowing each other for decades.
An unnamed senior Biden administration official described the top-level conversation as “candid and constructive.” The U.S. president reportedly urged the Israeli prime minister to seek “as broad a consensus as possible” for Israel’s judicial reforms, which have deeply divided Israeli society in recent months.
Following the phone call, an official White House readout stated that Biden stressed the importance of shared democratic values for U.S.-Israeli ties.
“The president underscored his belief that democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the U.S.-Israel relationship, that democratic societies are strengthened by genuine checks and balances, and that fundamental changes should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support,” the White House stated. “The President offered support for efforts underway to forge a compromise on proposed judicial reforms consistent with those core principles.”
On Sunday, the Israeli coalition government announced its intention to bring a controversial judicial overhaul bill to a final vote before the Jewish holiday of Passover in April.
According to the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu stressed “that Israel was, and will remain, a strong and vibrant democracy.”
The Israeli side also stressed that much of the Biden-Netanyahu conversation focused on the Iranian threat in the Middle East.
Turning the attention to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the White House confirmed that Biden had “reinforced the need for all sides to take urgent, collaborative steps to enhance security coordination, condemn all acts of terrorism and maintain the viability of a two-state solution.”
Netanyahu vowed that Israel would continue defending itself against terrorism. The Israeli prime minister also thanked Biden for his commitment to Israeli security in the combustible Middle East.
“The prime minister told President Biden that Israel would continue to take action everywhere against terrorists and the architects of terrorism. Netanyahu thanked President Biden for his commitment to Israel’s security,” said the Prime Minister’s Office.
Despite the reportedly friendly exchange, Biden has supposedly refrained from formally inviting Netanyahu for an official state visit to the White House. Due to traditionally close ties between Washington and Jerusalem, elected Israeli leaders are usually quickly invited to the White House.
The Biden administration’s unwillingness to invite Netanyahu is possibly linked to Washington’s disapproval of the Netanyahu government’s current policies.
Reportedly frustrated with the lack of invitation, Netanyahu recently stopped ministerial relations between the two administrations, until Biden invites him to the White House.
By contrast, Biden received former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to the White House in August 2021, some two months after Bennett became prime minister.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.