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Netanyahu finally meets Biden in person for first time since returning to premiership

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, Sept. 20, 2023 (Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO)

The long-awaited meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Joe Biden took place today on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City.

The Biden administration waited until over seven months after Netanyahu resumed the office to set up an official meeting, which is considered an unusually long time and widely seen as a snub and a ‘diplomatic slap in the face.'

Netanyahu was also repeatedly criticized by Biden and his administration for the Israeli government’s judicial reform.

In July, Biden referred to Netanyahu’s cabinet as “one of the most extreme" he has ever seen in Israel.

In addition, his administration has voiced concerns over the Israeli government’s policy toward Palestinians and measures taken in the West Bank that go against the two-state solution.

During Biden's speech on Tuesday at the opening session of the UNGA, he reiterated his support "for a just and lasting peace, for Israelis and Palestinians."

Below are Netanyahu's remarks before the meeting.

Thank you, Mr. President, Joe.

We've been friends for, I've checked it, over 40 years, and our friendship goes a long way and can take us a long way. I'm delighted to see you. I think we live at a time of great promise but also grave danger. You just spoke about that great promise in the G20 meeting that you participated in and led. You spoke about an economic corridor that would link Asia, the Middle East and Europe together, and such a corridor will make Israel a very important hub on a highway of unprecedented prosperity.

But I think, and you think, that it can do something much bigger than that. I think that under your leadership, Mr. President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia. And I think such a peace would go a long way first to advance the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict, achieve reconciliation between the Islamic world and the Jewish state, and advance a genuine peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is something within our reach. I believe that working together we can make history and create a better future for the region and beyond.

And also, by working together we can confront those forces that threaten that future, none more so than Iran.

I appreciate, Mr. President, your continuous commitment to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability. I think that's critical. And that shared goal of ours can be achieved by a credible military threat, crippling sanctions and supporting the brave men and women of Iran who despise that regime and who are our real partners for a better future.

So I look forward to working with you and your team to realize the promise and confront the threat.

As I said, we live in, and you said, we live in uncertain times, rapidly changing times. So I want to reassert here, before you, Mr. President, that one thing is certain and one thing will never change, and that is Israel's commitment to democracy. We will continue to uphold the values that both our proud democracies cherish.

And I think that working together will realize the promise, roll back the dangers and bring a better future for our region and the world. We can make history, Mr. President. With your leadership, we can make history.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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