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Biden speaks with Netanyahu as White House prepares for Herzog meeting

Biden also invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a meeting in the U.S. this fall, the White House said.
Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden in Jerusalem
Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden in Jerusalem in 2010.David Furst / AFP via Getty Images file

President Joe Biden spoke Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and invited him to the U.S. for a meeting in the coming months.

“The Prime Minister responded positively to the invitation and it was agreed that the Israeli and U.S. teams would coordinate the details of the meeting,” the Israeli government said in a statement.

The two leaders discussed strengthening the U.S.-Israel alliance, threats from Iran and “the continuation of efforts for calm and stability in Judea and Samaria,” the Israeli statement said. Israel also characterized the conversation as “warm and long.”

John Kirby, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said Biden underscored his "ironclad" commitment to Israel's security. In addition to discussing Iran, the two leaders also talked about judicial reforms in Israel and Biden's concern about settlement growth, Kirby said at a White House briefing.

He added that they would meet in the fall.

In a summary of the call, the White House said that Biden "expressed concern about continued settlement growth and called on all parties to refrain from further unilateral measures" and that he reiterated "the need for the broadest possible consensus" in the debate in Israel over judicial reforms.

"As friends can and friends should, you speak honestly, openly, forthrightly, candidly. You lay it out there, and President Biden has done that," Kirby said. "He's done it publicly with respect to judicial reforms, and he'll continue to do it in his conversations with Israeli leaders."

Kirby said the two leaders had been trying to schedule the call for "some weeks." Biden and Netanyahu last spoke in March.

Netanyahu was rushed to the hospital over the weekend after he experienced “mild dizziness,” his office said. The director of the hospital’s cardiology unit said the hospitalization was due to dehydration. Netanyahu was discharged Sunday after he was fitted with a heart monitor.

U.S. and Israeli relations have been tense in recent months after Biden criticized a judicial overhaul that Netanyahu had undertaken despite domestic protests. Biden had faced criticism for not yet having invited Netanyahu to visit the White House since Netanyahu returned to power.

Biden is set to meet Tuesday with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who holds a largely ceremonial position, at the White House.

The contents of Monday's call reflect a similar agenda that the White House put out for the meeting with Herzog on Tuesday. Biden and Herzog plan to discuss ways to advance freedom and security for Israelis and Palestinians, address Iran's "destabilizing behavior" and "deepen Israel’s regional integration," according to the White House.

Netanyahu, a far-right politician, is in his sixth term in office. His government has moved to expand Israeli settlements in the West Bank, to the consternation of the U.S. and other countries.

In March, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman protested to Israel's ambassador to the U.S. about changes in Israeli law that would allow new settlement construction in the West Bank.

Netanyahu was indicted in 2019 on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The corruption trial has been ongoing since 2020.