U.S. President Joe Biden has invited Reuven Rivlin to visit the United States before the Israeli president’s term ends in July. Rivlin may address the joint houses of Congress during the visit, the coordination of which has already begun. It is likely to take place during the second half of June.
The invitation was extended by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his meeting with Rivlin in Jerusalem Wednesday.
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In contrast to the chilly relations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Democratic presidents Barack Obama and Biden, Rivlin is popular in the U.S. capital. In 2015, Obama welcomed Rivlin warmly at the White House. Rivlin was the first leader in the region that Biden called to return his post-election congratulations after the November election, and he will be the first Israeli leader to meet with the U.S. president since the latter’s inauguration in January.
Blinken concluded his visit to Israel with his meeting with Rivlin. They talked at length about rising antisemitism in the U.S. during and since the end of Operation Guardian of the Walls. Rivlin told Blinken that “we are very worried by the increase in antisemitic incidents, including in the U.S., especially after the beginning of the operation in Gaza. We thank President Biden for his strong and clear stand on this issue.”
In response, Blinken said the U.S. was witnessing an outburst of antisemitism, as was the case only last week. Such acts were clearly condemned by President Biden as vile acts, said Blinken. He added that it is known that when there is a renewed rise in antisemitism it is only a first swallow followed by other incidents, including ones directed at other communities.
Rivlin protested attempts to portray Israeli soldiers as war criminals, as well as calls to prosecute them at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, whereas Hamas was using innocent civilians as human shields in the Gaza Strip. Rivlin noted the importance of defining Hamas as an organization that commits war crimes.
“It’s inconceivable that Hamas is not condemned by the entire world as a war criminal; it’s important to phrase such a definition. When IDF soldiers, the children of us all, are required to account for themselves at the criminal court in The Hague, the world must understand that the real war criminals are hiding in Gaza behind a civilian population.”