update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Herzog calls Biden ‘a great friend of Israel’

"We will work together to upgrade the humanitarian aid to Gaza and to bring the hostages back home," the Israeli president said.

President Isaac Herzog and his wife, Michal Herzog, with Democratic Congress members in Jerusalem, March 28, 2024. Photo by Maayan Toaf/GPO.
President Isaac Herzog and his wife, Michal Herzog, with Democratic Congress members in Jerusalem, March 28, 2024. Photo by Maayan Toaf/GPO.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog told visiting congressional Democrats at his official residence in Jerusalem on Thursday that U.S. President Joe Biden is “a great friend of Israel.”

“President Biden is a great friend of Israel. When we hosted him less than two years ago here, I could see his love and affection and emotion towards the people of Israel and the State of Israel. The tears in his eyes when he saw so many great moments here. He is a true friend and I respect him a lot for that,” Herzog told the lawmakers participating in an AIPAC-led trip.

He spoke amid tensions between Washington and Jerusalem over the direction of the war being waged in Gaza since the Hamas-led invasion of Oct. 7, and in particular regarding the IDF’s pending offensive in Rafah, which the White House opposes but which Israel says is necessary to defeat the terrorist group.

The tensions hit a boiling point with Monday’s U.S. abstention on a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire not conditioned on the release of 134 Israeli hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza. As a result, the resolution passed.

This led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel a planned visit of an Israeli delegation to Washington to discuss alternatives to the Rafah operation; later in the week, he reversed the decision.

“We share with the United States of America, and with the president of the United States of America, our dear friend President Joe Biden, the same vision of eradicating terror, of bringing the hostages back home, a vision of moving towards peace with our neighbors—once we finish the ability of our enemies to carry out terror from Gaza against us,” Herzog said.

“And finally, most importantly, we share the vision of inclusion of Israel in the region, in which I believe strongly, including the normalization [of relations] with Saudi Arabia,” he added.

In concluding his remarks to the American lawmakers, Herzog emphasized the “unique bond” between the two nations and the importance of strengthening ties.

“We will work together to alleviate and upgrade the humanitarian aid to Gaza and we will work together endlessly to bring the hostages back home. And we will work endlessly to fight terror, stand up to the empire of evil, and lead the world and the region to a better future. Thank you very much,” he said.

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