Biden Finally Speaks with Israeli Prime Minister After Weeks of Turning a Cold Shoulder


U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone on Wednesday after a month of silence that raised concerns about a frostier relationship between the two allies.

Netanyahu’s office was first to announce the conversation on Wednesday night, releasing a photo of a smiling Netanyahu holding a phone to his ear.

It said in a statement that the conversation was “warm and friendly” and lasted about an hour.

“We had a good conversation,” Biden said during a brief exchange with reporters.

The prime minister’s office was more descriptive.

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“The two leaders noted their longstanding personal connection and said that they would work together to continue strengthening the steadfast alliance between Israel and the U.S.,” the statement said.

Topics discussed, it added, included “the Iranian threat” of developing nuclear weapons, their efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic and the desire to expand the Trump administration’s peace efforts between Israel and Arab nations.

The White House later issued a statement saying that Biden “affirmed his personal history of steadfast commitment to Israel’s security and conveyed his intent to strengthen all aspects of the U.S.-Israel partnership, including our strong defense cooperation.”

Biden had not reached out to the prime minister since his inauguration in January, suggesting a shift from his predecessor’s warm relationship with Israel.

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Netanyahu, who is facing a tough fight ahead of Israel’s March 23 election, is hoping to dissuade Biden from rejoining the Iranian nuclear deal, to which Israel is strongly opposed.

Biden had not yet called Netanyahu in part because he first wanted to speak with European allies as he weighs his next steps with Iran, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

During last year’s presidential campaign, Biden criticized former President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran accord.

The United States is Israel’s closest ally, providing about $3.8 billion in annual military aid.

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