In long-awaited phone call, Biden invites Netanyahu to meet – but not at White House

Israel’s former envoy to Washington told World Israel News that the gesture did not constitute a formal state invitation to the White House.

By World Israel News Staff

President Joe Biden spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening for the first time in four months and extended an invitation to the Israeli leader to meet in the U.S., without specifying where or when, according to a readout by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The prime minister accepted the invitation and agreed to work on coordinating a suitable date, the readout said.

Israel’s former ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren told World Israel News that the gesture did not constitute a formal state invitation to the White House, and instead the meeting would probably take place on the sidelines of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly in September.

“The likely scenario is that it will happen in the quarters of the UN,” Oren said.

“Now Bibi can say he was invited,” Oren said, using the prime minister’s nickname, “and Biden can say he didn’t invite him.”

According to Oren, Biden’s decision to snub Netanyahu is likely a concession to the progressive arm of his party.

The conversation took place a day before Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s departure for Washington for an official state visit.

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According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the call was described as “warm and lengthy,” focusing on strengthening the alliance between the two nations, addressing threats from Iran, expanding regional peace with the Abraham Accords, and continuing efforts for calm and stability in Judea and Samaria.

Netanyahu’s office said Biden was updated on the reasonableness bill, which is expected to be passed next week. The Israeli prime minister also communicated his intention to cultivate broad public consensus for the remaining elements of the judicial reform, the statement said.

Last week, in an interview with CNN, Biden sidestepped the question about inviting Netanyahu to the White House, mentioning that Herzog would be visiting. “Netanyahu is still trying to sort out issues within his coalition,” Biden said.