WASHINGTON – U.S. Jewish organizations and lawmakers roundly praised the improved tone surrounding U.S.-Israel relations following Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's Friday meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden.
The groups' reactions, however, were a bit more varied concerning the leaders' willingness to engage on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which met with Bennett on Wednesday, said the meeting "reflects the close and enduring relationship between the United States and Israel."
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The group also urged Congress to act promptly to approve Biden's request to replenish the Iron Dome missile defense system and to ensure Israel can defend itself against Iran. It did not mention the Palestinians in its statement.
Rep. Ted Deutch, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism, called the Biden-Bennett meeting "truly historic," praising Bennett for affirming bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship and for expressing his condolences over the deadly Afghanistan attack.
He also said he looks forward to working toward improved relations between Israel and both the Palestinians and the greater Arab world, while working together to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations also heralded the meeting, highlighting the aforementioned topics as well as enhanced cooperation in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, though also did not mention the Palestinians.
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The Israel Policy Forum said it was particularly "encouraged by the discussion of the importance of Israel’s security and the need to promote the freedom, dignity, and well-being of Israelis and Palestinians," especially after Bennett's indicated openness to improving ties with the Palestinian Authority and avoiding annexation.
Americans for Peace Now, however, noted that improved cooperation and tone "ought not to come at the expense of progress toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel’s chief strategic challenge."
It noted that the "Biden administration is committed to a goal of keeping the path open for a two-state solution. Serving that goal calls for active diplomacy rather than benign neglect."
The progressive IfNotNow organization, too, noted that the meeting only held "passing mention of Palestinians and no condemnation of Israeli violations of international law."