Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced on Monday evening that U.S. President Joe Biden invited the premier to meet him in the U.S. during “a warm and long” phone call between the two.
While the invitation to meet was confirmed by White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, it was not mentioned in the official readout of the phone call released by the White House.
During a press briefing on Monday, Kirby also declined to confirm whether the meeting would take place at the White House, saying, “They have agreed that they will meet, probably before the end of this year, and all the details of the 'wheres' and the 'whens' are still being worked out.”
Kirby then affirmed once again that “there will be a meeting sometime in the fall,", before stating the Biden administration still has concerns about the coalition’s judicial reforms, as well as some of its members.
“Everybody’s focused on the invitation and the meeting,” Kirby said. “That doesn’t mean…that we have less concerns over these judicial reforms or less concerns over some of the extremist activities and behaviors by some members of the Netanyahu cabinet.”
“Those concerns are still valid, they’re disturbing,” Kirby stated. “The president had a chance to reiterate our concerns about all that in his phone call with the prime minister. And what we have found to be a useful process here is dialogue and diplomacy.”
“These are two leaders that have known each other for a long time, and as friends can and friends should, they speak honestly and openly, forthrightly, candidly. President Biden has done that, he’s done it publicly with respect to these judicial reforms, and he’ll continue to do it in his conversations with Israeli leaders.”
Kirby also said Biden expressed his concerns to Netanyahu over the issue of Jewish settlement growth and reiterated his support for an Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution.
“The President stressed the need to take measures to maintain the viability of a two-state solution and improve the security situation in the West Bank. To that end, he welcomed Israel’s willingness to consider new steps to support Palestinian livelihoods, and recognized promising steps by the Palestinian Authority to reassert security control in Jenin and other areas of the West Bank,” Kirby said in his readout of the call.
During the Q&A session, Kirby also affirmed that the Biden administration’s “commitment to Israel is ironclad.”
“We stand for Israel. We stand for the Israeli people, and we stand for Israel’s democracy,” Kirby said.
Some in Israel have been critical of the Biden administration’s stance towards Netanyahu and his coalition government. Last week, on Channel 13 news, political commentator Raviv Drucker said Biden’s comments were an attack on Netanyahu.
He claimed that Biden “harms Netanyahu’s ability to pass policy” when he condemns the Israeli prime minister.
“The attacks from the White House have so far been entirely one-sided. President Biden has insulted him several times, and Netanyahu has never responded,” Drucker said.
A Wall Street Journal editorial last week accused Biden of treating Netanyahu worse than Iran, arguing that the Biden administration’s conduct toward Israel is inappropriate given the strong relationship and shared interests between the two nations.
“This is no way to treat a democratic ally and no way to pursue U.S. interests while Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party is in power, as it has been for most of the past 25 years."
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.