Biden promises Netanyahu White House meeting later in 2023

Biden administration waiting to see how judicial reform protests play out over the next months before extending a formal White House invite to Netanyahu.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

After refusing to telephone Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for an extended period of time and declining to invite him to visit the White House for more than two years, President Joe Biden reportedly is promising to finally extend the Israeli premier a long-awaited meeting in the Oval Office.

According to a report from Axios, senior Biden administration officials told their Israeli counterparts that the American president would extend a formal invite to Netanyahu to visit the White House later this year.

Netanyahu had hoped to meet Biden in Washington during his upcoming visit to the U.S., in which he will speak at the UN General Assembly in New York. But Biden has held off on hosting the Israeli premier at the White House, instead offering to privately meet him during the UN session.

Biden’s unwillingness to host Netanyahu at the White House has been a source of frustration for the Israeli prime minister, and many commentators have interpreted that – along with his failure to phone Netanyahu for nearly a month after assuming office – as signs of cooling relations between his administration and Israel.

Some Biden administration officials who disapprove of Netanyahu’s coalition – which Biden has called “extreme” – were resistant to the idea of a formal White House visit, arguing that it could hurt the president politically among Democrats.

Before the formal White House invite is extended to Netanyahu, a Washington insider told Axios, the Biden administration wants to monitor how the judicial reform controversy plays out during the next few months.

Axios reported that a number of presidential aides were “concerned about a scenario in which thousands of Israelis and American Jews would descend on the White House to protest the meeting” and wanted to avoid “importing Israel’s domestic political debate to Washington.”

Despite Biden’s reluctance to invite Netanyahu to the White House, U.S. officials have been working on brokering a normalization agreement between Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia.