WASHINGTON – President Reuven Rivlin is scheduled to meet on Monday with U.S. President Joe Biden in the White House, in what will be the first meeting between Biden and an Israeli leader since his inauguration in January.
Rivlin landed on Sunday in New York and met with leaders of the American Jewish community. Although the White House meeting is a gesture by Biden to honor of the end of Rivlin's term in two weeks, the president is expected to raise a number of strategic issues with Biden and turn the ceremonial meeting into a work meeting.
Rivlin is expected to focus their conversation on Israel’s concerns about the United States potentially returning to the Iran nuclear deal, and discuss the principles Israel thinks must be included in the agreement. Rivlin is also expected to tell Biden that he is worried about Hezbollah’s increasing power under Iranian auspices, and the consequences it will have for the region.
The visit comes shortly after Israel's 11-day conflict with militants in the Gaza Strip. Rivlin plans to thank Biden for his diplomatic and military support for Israel during the conflict with Hamas, and for his personal involvement in the situation – as well as the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security more broadly.
At the same time, Rivlin is expected to criticize the decision of the Palestinian Authority to move the conflict between the two sides into such arenas as the International Criminal Court in The Hague and the United Nations, and make it clear that this is step is destructive for Israel-PA relations.
Rivlin is also expected to tell Biden that building trust between Israel and the Palestinians is a condition for peace negotiations. He will express his worries about the continued incitement on the part of the Palestinian Authority, and tell Biden the PA is working to delegitimize the existence of Israel in its school curriculum and public discourse, and in doing so has precluded any chance of building trust.
The issue of the reconstruction of Gaza after the latest round of fighting may also come up during the meeting between the two presidents. Rivlin will emphasize how important it is for Israel to receive the bodies and captives held by Hamas as part of the process.
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After meeting with Biden, Rivlin is scheduled to continue on to Congress, where he will meet with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and with a number of senators from both parties. Rivlin considers himself a close friend of Pelosi, and they have spoken and met many times while he has been in office.
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.