Netanyahu Speaks With Biden for the First Time Since U.S. Election, Calls Him 'President-elect'

Israel's President Rivlin also spoke with Biden, congratulating 'a long-standing friend of the State of Israel'

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016.
Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016.Credit: Debbie Hill/Pool via Reuters
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin both spoke with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, their offices said on Tuesday.

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A statement on Netanyahu's behalf refers to Biden as "President-elect," which the prime minister has refrained from using until now.

In a radio interview on Tuesday, Netanyahu avoided directly answering the question of who he thinks won the United States presidential election, saying: “Why should I have an opinion?”

Without directly mentioning Biden's victory, Netanyahu said, "I think everyone pretty much understands what needs to be understood and what is probably going to happen officially."

In their call, according to the statement issued Tuesday by Netanyahu's office, Biden "reiterated his deep commitment to the State of Israel and its security," and the two agreed to meet "soon."

President Reuven Rivlin and Joe Biden at the president's residence in Jerusalem, March 2016.Credit: Mark Neiman/GPO

Rivlin, according to a statement released by his office,  congratulated Biden for his win and told him: "The United States of America has no stronger ally than the State of Israel... and the president of the United States of America has no greater friend than the president of the State of Israel."

The Israeli president also called Biden "a long-standing friend of the State of Israel," adding: "We have no doubt that, under your leadership, the United States is committed to Israel’s security and success."

When asked about the progressive members of the Democratic Party in his interview with the Galey Israel radio station, Netanyahu said: “I think we need to understand how we conduct ourselves in front of the U.S. and I'm not bothered because I know how to conduct myself. The way to proceed is not to prefer one side or the other… it is not personal.” 

The prime minister concluded by assuring that his government “will cooperate with anyone who leads the U.S. to advance our agenda.”

These remarks come a day after Netanyahu chose not to refer to Joe Biden as president-elect during a press conference on Monday, saying instead that Biden was "supposed to be appointed the next president."

Netanyahu referred to President Donald Trump as president-elect immediately after he won his election in 2016, and the two spoke hours after Trump's victory was clear.

Trump has refused to concede 10 days after media outlets called the election, continuing to hurl unsubstantiated accusations of mass voter fraud, despite officials calling the election the most secure in U.S. history.

Netanyahu waited 12 hours before congratulating Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory in a post on Twitter that pointed to his "long and warm personal relationship" with Biden, describing him as a "great friend of Israel."

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