Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday became the latest official to dispel rumors of a White House “reassessment” of ties with Israel, ahead of his scheduled speech to the U.S. Congress next week.
“In just a few days, I will pay an important visit to the United States, to mark 75 years of Israeli independence, and 75 years of our solid alliance, which lies above and beyond any and all disagreements,” he told Israel Defense Forces soldiers at a gathering of the 7th Armored Brigade.
“Here, on the battlefields, at a time when our enemies over the border in Syria and Lebanon, led by Iran, are trying to test us, I say what I will also say in Washington: Israel and the United States are strong and strategic, democratic allies of the highest level,” stated Herzog, warning that “our enemies should not underestimate us.”
In an article titled, “The U.S. Reassessment of Netanyahu’s Government Has Begun,” published on July 11, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman claimed that a reassessment by the Biden administration of Washington’s relations with Israel is “inevitable.”
Friedman argued that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was being “led around by the nose” by “extreme” Cabinet members, such as National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, risking a breakdown in Israel-U.S. ties and a “civil war” in Israel.
Seemingly in response to Friedman’s observations, Herzog on Wednesday called Jerusalem’s alliance with America “unbreakable and irreplaceable—just like Israeli democracy,” adding, “It has always been and will always be.”
Earlier that day, an Israeli official likewise said that the government was “unaware” of any decision to reexamine ties. The unnamed official reportedly told local media that many U.S. administrations have announced “reevaluations” of relations with Israel in a number of different scenarios.
“Despite these periodic ‘reevaluations’ and disagreements over the years, relations between Israel and the U.S. have tightened for decades and reached an all-time high of security cooperation under the leadership of Netanyahu,” he added.
Likud lawmaker Dan Illouz, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, tweeted that Thomas Friedman is “one of the most obsessed anti-Netanyahu journalists in the world,” noting that the columnist “has been claiming for decades that Netanyahu is destroying [our] relations with the United States, even though Netanyahu’s special [relationship] with the United States brought the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and [gave us] the Abraham Accords.”
Meanwhile, in response to a question at the U.S. State Department press briefing, spokesman Matthew Miller on Wednesday confirmed there has been “no talk of any kind of formal reassessment.” He said Washington and Jerusalem’s partnership is “based on shared democratic values and shared interests,” adding that the United States and Israel have their differences.
On July 19, President Isaac Herzog will address a joint session of Congress. The only other Israeli president to address both chambers of Congress was Herzog’s father, Chaim, in November 1987.
The speech is meant to “commemorate the 75th anniversary of the statehood of Israel and reaffirm the special relationship between our two nations,” according to a statement issued by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.