Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will travel this Tuesday (24th) to Washington for a meeting with US President Joe Biden, seeking to “restart” the relationship with his main ally and to reach an understanding about his rival Will.
On his first state visit since taking power in June, Bennett will meet Thursday with Biden to try to adjust ties with the Democratic president, which have been strained with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, criticized for favoring the Republican party.
“Currently, the main issue between the two countries is to renew and restart bilateral relations,” said Scott Lasensky, who was an adviser on Israel to former president Barack Obama.
Netanyahu has angered Democrats with his fierce criticism of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers negotiated by the Obama administration when Biden was vice president.
Netanyahu’s rapprochement with Obama’s successor Donald Trump further angered the current president’s party.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid suggested a new approach when he met in June with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“In recent years mistakes have been made. Israel’s bipartisan position has suffered. Let’s fix these mistakes together”, said Lapid at the time.
While Bennett seeks to calm diplomatic waters, he remains firmly opposed to the deal with Iran, which allowed it to lift sanctions against the Tehran regime in exchange for a brake on the country’s nuclear program.
Iran insists its program is peaceful, but has gradually failed to fulfill its crucial commitments, including on uranium enrichment, in response to the US withdrawal from the 2018 agreement and the resumption of sanctions by the Trump government.
“I will tell President Biden that it is time to stop the Iranians (…) not toss them a life jacket with a return to an expired nuclear deal,” the 49-year-old prime minister said on Sunday.
His meeting with the 78-year-old Biden comes two months after talks in Vienna collapsed to rescue the nuclear deal.
Bennett leads a motley coalition that ranges from moderate to hard-line parties like his own, and avoids the Palestinian issue: he focuses on consensus issues like health and economics.
Shira Efron of the Tel Aviv Institute for National Security Studies said the Biden government had modest ambitions, centered mainly on undoing some of Trump’s measures in favor of Israel.
Biden’s government resumed payment of millions of dollars of funding to the Palestinians that Trump had stopped, including funds to the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).
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