Biden Meets With Netanyahu in New York City

By Matis Glenn

President Joe Biden, right, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, left Avi Ohayon (GPO)

U.S. President Joe Biden held a much-anticipated meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday morning, the first such meeting since the latter assumed premiership this year.

The meeting took place at the Intercontinental Hotel in Manhattan, as the United Nations General Assembly is underway.

Biden was the first to speak. He reminisced about how long he has known Netanyahu and expressed a desire to see the Prime Minister to Washington, presumably referring to a White House invitation – something Netanyahu has been hoping for. “I hope we will see each other in Washington by the end of the year,” Biden said. After making remarks on Israel’s 75th anniversary, Biden said that the U.S and Israel share goals to “build a more stable and prosperous Middle East” and the new economic corridor that was agreed to at the recent G20 summit.

Biden reiterated his dedication to Israel. “Even where we have some differences, my commitment to Israel, you know, is ironclad.

“You’ve heard me say many times that if there was no Israel, we’d have to invent one,” Biden said.

The President laid out an agenda for the meeting. “Today, we’re going to discuss some of the hard issues, that is upholding democratic values that lie at the heart of our partnership, including the checks and balances in our systems and preserving the path to a negotiated two-state solution, and ensuring that Iran never, never acquires a nuclear weapon,” Biden said.

Speaking of the possibility of a normalization deal with Saudi Arabia, Biden said: “If you and I 10 years ago were talking about normalization with Saudi Arabia, I think we’d look at each other like, ‘who’s been drinking what?’”

Netanyahu then began to speak. He echoed Biden’s opening remarks on the longstanding relationship between the two leaders, and stated Israel’s dedication to democracy. “As I said, we live in — and you said — we live in uncertain times, rapidly changing times. So I want to reassert here before you, Mr. President, that one thing is certain, and one thing will never change. And that is Israel’s commitment to democracy. We will continue to uphold the values that both our proud democracies cherish.”

Speaking about Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu said: “I think that under your leadership, Mr. President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia. And I think such a peace would go a long way for us to advance the end of the Arab Israeli conflict, achieve reconciliation between the Islamic world and the Jewish state and advance a genuine peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We can make history, Mr. President. With your leadership, we can make history.”

Biden ignored questions shouted at him about whether he feared for the future of democracy in Israel and what the Palestinians would need to achieve in a normalization deal.

The meeting was attended, on the American side, by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Jake Sullivan, Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the President for Energy and Investment Amos Hochstein, among other officials. On the Israeli side, attendees included Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog, National Security Advisor and Head of the National Security Council Tzachi Henegbi, Ambassador Gilad Erdan, and other officials.

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