BIDEN SPEAKS WITH NETANYAHU AFTER LONG DELAY
US President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday (Thursday, February 18, 2021, in Manila), in the first call between the allies since Biden took office, Eliyahu Kamisher reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).
The nearly one-month delay in a phone call between a new US president and the Israeli leader is highly unusual as presidents usually phone Israel within days of taking office. The delay fueled accusations that Biden was shunning Netanyahu for his close relationship with former president Donald Trump.
In a tweet, Netanyahu said leaders spoke for about an hour in a "very friendly and warm" conversation. "The two leaders noted the personal connection for many years between them and said they will work together to further strengthen the strong alliance between Israel and the United States," the tweet said.
The White House said Biden "affirmed his personal history of steadfast commitment to Israel’s security and conveyed his intent to strengthen all aspects of the US-Israel partnership, including our strong defense cooperation."
Biden emphasized US support for normalization agreements between Israel and Arab and Muslim countries that were brokered by the Trump administration but hastened to add the importance of seeking peace in the region, including between Israelis and Palestinians.
Israel is dependent on the US for weapons and diplomatic support. Washington backs a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue, something that Netanyahu refuses to accept.