Biden calls Netanyahu ‘friend’ and vows to push for ‘two-state solution’



US President Joe Biden said Thursday he will work with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling the returning right-wing leader his “friend” but vowing to oppose policies that jeopardize a settlement of two states with the Palestinians.

“I look forward to working with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has been my friend for decades, to jointly address the many challenges and opportunities facing Israel and the Middle East region, including threats from Iran,” Biden said in a statement.

“As we have done throughout my administration, the United States will continue to support the two-state solution and oppose policies that jeopardize its viability or contradict our mutual interests and values.”

Netanyahu swore

Netanyahu, who had a strained relationship with Biden’s last Democratic Party president, Barack Obama, was sworn in on Thursday, leading the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.

The government, Netanyahu’s sixth, includes far-right figures such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, who once hung a portrait in his home of a gunman who massacred Palestinian worshipers and will now serve as national security minister.

coalition

When Netanyahu was putting together a coalition, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration would judge the cabinet by “the policies they follow, not the personalities that make up a government.”

US officials say they hope to encourage restraint on the part of Netanyahu by quickly convening a meeting between the foreign ministers of Israel and Arab countries that recognize the Jewish state.

Three Arab nations – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco – normalized ties with Israel in 2020 under Netanyahu, who hailed the so-called Abraham Accords as a crowning achievement, as did then-President Donald Trump.

Prosperous region

Biden said the United States “is working to promote an increasingly integrated, prosperous and secure region with benefits for all its people.”

In a subtle jab at Netanyahu’s past suggestions that the Abraham Accords showed it was time to move away from diplomacy focused on the Palestinian issue, Biden called for working on a “more hopeful vision of a region at peace, including between Israelis and Palestinians.”

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