After delaying for months, President Joe Biden has now extended an invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit the United States for a meeting.
On Monday, the two leaders spoke by phone and offered and accepted the invitation. After taking office, Israeli prime ministers normally receive an invitation to Washington, but Biden, who has known Netanyahu for decades, has yet to extend that invitation.
According to reports from Axios and the Jerusalem Post, quoting the prime minister’s office, Biden’s invitation did not specifically identify the White House, suggesting that the leaders may perhaps meet on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
So, the wait may not be entirely over with one invitation.
The right-wing policies promoted by Netanyahu’s government coalition, including an effort to weaken the nation’s judiciary, which Biden strongly opposes, have been widely blamed for the delay in the White House invitation.
The Biden administration has also vehemently opposed current Israeli efforts to increase settlements in the West Bank.
When asked when he would be inviting Netanyahu to come, Biden answered at the time, “Not in the near term,” in March, just after Netanyahu halted the judicial overhaul in the face of widespread demonstrations.
The invitation to visit the United States comes at the start of Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s trip to Washington, where he will speak to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.
No date for the visit has been determined. Despite the supposed apolitical nature of Herzog’s role as president of state, there has been controversy surrounding his visit. A number of progressive parliamentarians have vowed to boycott his address in opposition to Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.
Netanyahu and Biden also talked about judicial reform, a crucial component of which is expected to pass this week, in addition to the White House visit.
They also talked about reducing tensions in the West Bank, where violence has increased this year, and fending off Iranian threats.