Israel: Netanyahu dials Joe Biden says he spoke about COVID-19, Iran

The office of Netanyahu, who is facing a tough fight ahead of the March 23 election, was more descriptive.

US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone on Thursday after a month of silence that raised concerns in Israel about a frostier relationship between the two allies.

Netanyahu's office was first to announce the conversation Wednesday night, releasing a photo of a smiling prime minister holding a phone to his ear. The statement said the conversation was warm and friendly and lasted about an hour.

We had a good conversation, Biden said during a brief exchange with reporters before the start of an Oval Office meeting with labor leaders.

The office of the prime minister, who is facing a tough fight ahead of the March 23 election, was more descriptive.

The two leaders noted their longstanding personal connection and said that they would work together to continue strengthening the steadfast alliance between Israel and the U.S., said the statement.

Topics discussed, it added, included the Iranian threat of developing nuclear weapons, their efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic and the desire to expand Israel's accords with Arab nations.

Israelis had been complaining since Biden's inauguration in January that the new president had not reached out to Netanyahu, concerned that the silence could forecast a chillier relationship between the two close allies after former President Donald Trump's warm embrace.

Netanyahu has long boasted of his close relations with American presidents and other world leaders. He's hoping to dissuade Biden from rejoining the Iranian nuclear deal, to which Israel is strongly opposed.

Biden had been holding off calling Netanyahu, in part, because he first wanted to speak with key European allies as he weighs his next steps with Iran, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Many Israelis fear that Biden, who served as President Barack Obama's vice president, will revive his approach to the region, both by returning to the Iran deal and by pressing Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians.

During last year's presidential campaign, Biden criticized Trump's decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran accord. But the new president publicly has insisted that Iran adhere to its commitment under the 2015 pact before his administration engage Tehran on potentially lifting Trump-imposed sanctions.

The United States is Israel's closest ally, providing about $3.8 billion in annual military aid and shielding it from censure in international forums over its policies toward the Palestinians.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel