U.S. President Joe Biden was scheduled to call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday for talks likely to focus on concerns over Jerusalem’s judicial reform plans, the Hebrew-language Walla site reported.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not confirm the call, set to take place shortly before President Isaac Herzog departs for Washington, where he will visit the White House and address a joint session of Congress.
Monday’s call will be a chance for Biden to make clear his opposition to the policies of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, Walla said.
Biden has criticized Israel’s government previously, crossing the line in the view of some critics when he weighed in on the country’s domestic politics and expressing a hope that Netanyahu “walks away from” his effort to reform the country’s judicial system.
The U.S. president sharply criticized Netanyahu’s coalition in a CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria on July 7, calling it “one of the most extreme” Israeli governments he’s ever seen.
In May, it was reported that the Biden administration demanded that Israel shelve its judicial reform plans in exchange for American support for a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia.
“Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends,” the prime minister has said in response.
Biden has been criticized for not inviting Netanyahu to the White House since he returned to the Prime Minister’s Office in December. Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman recently told Zenger News that Biden’s failure to do so was “despicable.”
Meanwhile, Herzog’s trip to Washington and New York is meant to strengthen the ties between the two countries, “which are placed above all controversy,” his office said.
He will meet with Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other senior officials and address Congress on Tuesday during the visit, which wraps up after he spends Shabbat in New York.
“I am very much looking forward to representing the entire nation of Israel as president of the State of Israel before the elected representatives of the American people, to mark the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel,” Herzog said ahead of the trip.
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate
(Additional reporting provided by JNS Reporter)
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