Israel's Bennett to Meet Biden in Washington Next Week

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President Joe Biden waves as he arrives at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, Monday, August 16, 2021.
President Joe Biden waves as he arrives at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, Monday, August 16, 2021.Credit: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will meet with President Joe Biden in Washington next Thursday, the Prime Minister's Office and the White House said on Wednesday.

This will be the first meeting between the two leaders since Bennett took office in June.

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Bennett intends to forefront the Iranian issue at his meeting with the U.S. president, and will present Biden with information detailing Iran's progress in the last few days with its uranium enrichment drive. At a press conference on Wednesday, Bennett said that ahead of the U.S. visit "a process of policy formulation on the Iranian issue in all its aspects has been completed." Both Israel and the U.S. share the goal of stopping Iran's negative activity in the region and of stopping its nuclear drive, Bennett said.

Naftali Bennett at a cabinet meeting, earlier this month.Credit: Emil Salman

Jerusalem believes that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will also be discussed at the Bennett-Biden meeting, as well as the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, hit hard by the latest round of fighting with Israel. The effects on the region of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover will also be discussed.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that Bennett’s visit will "strengthen the enduring partnership between the United States and Israel, reflect the deep ties between our governments and our people, and underscore the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security." 

Psaki said the two will discuss "critical issues related to regional and global security, including Iran," and that it will be an opportunity for Bennett and Biden to "discuss efforts to advance peace, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians and the importance of working towards a more peaceful and secure future for the region."

To avoid mandatory COVID isolation, Bennett's entourage will be relatively small, and members will not be able to leave their hotel except on official business, a statement issued by Bennett’s office said.

Last week, Bennett met with CIA Director William J. Burns on his first working visit as the agency's director to Israel and the West Bank.

Bennett and Burns "discussed the situation in the Middle East, with emphasis on Iran, and possibilities for expanding and deepening regional cooperation," a statement from the Prime Minister's office said after their meeting.

Burns' visit came against the backdrop of Tehran's efforts to achieve nuclear capabilities as well as a possible return to its nuclear deal following the inauguration last week of a new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi. 

Ben Samuels contributed to this report

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