Netanyahu was not invited to White House, confirms US spokesman

The two leaders will meet “somewhere in the United States,” White House National Security Council spokesperson said. 

By Meir Dolev, World Israel News

The Biden administration on Wednesday appeared to deny Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent claims made in interviews with U.S. networks that he was invited by President Joe Biden to the White House.

In a phone briefing with journalists, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby stated that while a meeting between Biden and Netanyahu would likely take place later this year, no specific location had been set.

“We still anticipate that the president will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu sometime in the latter part of this year in the fall, and [that] it’ll be somewhere in the United States,” Kirby said.

Kirby hinted at a possible rendezvous at the sidelines of UN General Assembly in September, which both leaders are set to attend. However, this proposed meeting would likely be one among several engagements for the U.S. president during the week, making it notably different from the high-profile Oval Office encounter that Netanyahu might be expecting.

Contrasting statements arose after the two leaders spoke in a telephone call on July 17. Netanyahu’s office released a statement claiming Biden had extended an invitation to meet in the U.S, but he didn’t specify when or where. However, the White House’s official statement did not mention such an invitation.

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An anonymous source acquainted with the matter shared that during the call, it was Netanyahu who initiated the idea of a meeting. Biden reportedly expressed willingness, but no specific details were discussed.

Israeli officials further stirred the waters by informing Hebrew media that Biden had not only invited Netanyahu, but had proposed a White House setting for their talk.

Reaffirming his claim, Netanyahu told ABC News on July 27 about the purported White House invitation and reiterated his stance in a recent NBC News interview.

In an interview with CNN shortly after the phone call, Biden sidestepped the question about inviting Netanyahu to the White House, mentioning that President Isaac Herzog would be visiting. “Netanyahu is still trying to sort out issues within his coalition,” Biden said.

Biden’s snub, which lasted more than seven months since Netanyahu retook office, is perceived as many as an expression of his displeasure at the ongoing plan to reform the judiciary.