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Netanyahu, Biden speak as Herzog heads to US

During the conversation, "President Biden invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to an upcoming meeting in the U.S.," said Netanyahu.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 9, 2016. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 9, 2016. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a “warm and long” call with U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed.

During the conversation, “President Biden invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to an upcoming meeting in the U.S.,” Netanyahu said.

The call furthermore focused on issues related to strengthening the U.S.-Israel alliance, countering the Iranian threat, expanding regional peace, and promoting stability in Judea and Samaria.

Monday’s call was also a chance for Biden to make clear his opposition to the judicial reform plans of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, the Hebrew-language Walla news site reported earlier.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu informed the U.S. president regarding the law that will be passed in the Knesset next week,” the statement from Jerusalem said, referring to a proposal to restrict the use of the “reasonableness” standard by the Supreme Court.

Netanyahu told Biden he would seek “broad consensus” over the summer regarding his effort to reform the country’s judicial system.

Biden has criticized Israel’s government previously, crossing the line in the view of some critics when he weighed in on the country’s domestic politics and expressing a hope that Netanyahu “walks away from” his judicial reform plans.

The U.S. president sharply criticized Netanyahu’s coalition in a CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria on July 7, calling it “one of the most extreme” Israeli governments he’s ever seen.

In May, it was reported that the Biden administration demanded that Israel shelve its judicial reform plans in exchange for American support for a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia.

“Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends,” the prime minister has said in response.

Biden had been criticized for not inviting Netanyahu to the White House since he returned to the Prime Minister’s Office in December. Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman recently told JNS that Biden’s failure to do so was “despicable.”

The call took place shortly before President Isaac Herzog departed for Washington, where he will visit the White House and address a joint session of Congress.

Herzog’s trip to Washington and New York is meant to strengthen the ties between the two countries, “which are placed above all controversy,” his office said.

He will meet with Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other senior officials and address Congress on Tuesday during the visit, which wraps up after he spends Shabbat in New York.

“I am very much looking forward to representing the entire nation of Israel as president of the State of Israel before the elected representatives of the American people, to mark the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel,” Herzog said ahead of the trip.

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