U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone on Wednesday evening for the first time since the President’s inauguration four weeks ago.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is the twelfth world leader to receive a call from President Biden, and the first leader in the Middle East to receive a call.
The leaders discussed the upcoming key priorities of the Biden administration including the strengthening of US-Israeli ties and building on the normalisation agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbours originally brokered by the Trump administration. The conversation moved on to discuss the sensitives around the Iranian threat and regional challenges. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Office reported that President Biden congratulated Netanyahu for his leadership on fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and the world’s leading vaccination programme.
President Biden has suggested that he intends to re-enter the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and lift sanctions once Tehran halts its increased uranium enrichment and resumes full compliance with the deal. Biden added he wants to address Iran’s ballistic missile programme and regional hegemony but his priority is addressing Iranian compliance with the JCPOA.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Office reported that the conversation was “very friendly and lasted about an hour”. “The two leaders noted their personal ties of many years and said they will work together to continue bolstering the strong alliance between Israel and the US”, they added. Prior to the call, Netanyahu declared on Army Radio that “Joe Biden is my personal friend of 40 years”.
“It was a good conversation”, President Biden told reporters in the Oval Office. The White House has released the following statement on the phone call: “The President affirmed his personal history of steadfast commitment to Israel’s security” and “emphasized US support for the recent normalization of relations between Israel and countries in the Arab and Muslim word”. President Biden “underscored the importance of working to advance peace throughout the region, including between Israelis and Palestinians”, the statement added.
Both leaders have agreed to continue their dialogue supported by Secretary of State Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, both having already called their Israeli counterparts twice since the inauguration.