Biden Vows Iran Won't Get Nuclear Weapon on His Watch as He Meets Rivlin at White House

U.S. president says Washington's commitment to Israel is 'iron clad' as Israel's outgoing president makes final U.S. visit of his seven-year term

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Joe Biden meets with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin at the White House in Washington, Monday.
Joe Biden meets with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin at the White House in Washington, Monday.Credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

U.S. President Joe Biden vowed on Monday that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on his watch, as he met with Israel's outgoing President Reuven Rivlin at the White House.

Biden added that he looks forward to meeting with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett soon. "My commitment to Israel is ... iron-clad," Biden told Rivlin at the start of their meeting in the Oval Office. He said the two officials would discuss a range of topics, including Iran.

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Rivlin meanwhile said that "the bond between the people of Israel and the people of America is based on the understanding that we are sharing values – values of democracy, and values of liberalism. And because of that, of course, we, according to a real friendship, can from time to time discuss matters, and even they agree not to agree about everything."

Rivlin is set to end his role after seven years on July 9, when Isaac Herzog will take over. He is the first senior Israeli official to have met Biden since he was inaugurated in January.

During their meeting, Rivlin told Biden that the possibility of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is the most serious strategic threat facing the world, and repeated Israel's position that the nuclear deal that is taking shape poses a security risk.

Rivlin also criticized the Palestinian Authority's decision to move the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into such arenas as the International Criminal Court in The Hague and the United Nations, telling Biden that this was destructive for Israel-Palestinian relations.

After meeting with Biden, Rivlin went on to Congress, where he met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and with a number of senators from both parties. As they met, Pelosi said that support for Israel within Congress has always been bipartisan, and will continue to be in the future.

Pelosi represented the United States, along with Trump’s special adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, at the ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz hosted by Rivlin and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center in Jerusalem last year.

Rivlin and Pelosi also worked together in the summer of 2019 to calm tensions in the United States after Israel canceled U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib's visit to Israel and Trump cast doubt on the loyalty of Jews who vote for Democrats.

Before meeting with Biden, Rivlin met with the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the U.S. On Tuesday morning, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid set out to the UAE on his first official visit.

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