Netanyahu, Rivlin call Biden: ‘US-Israel ties beyond partisan politics’
By LAHAV HARKOV, GIL HOFFMAN
President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called US President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday, a week and a half after his victory in the presidential election became apparent.}
Netanyahu and Biden spoke for more than 20 minutes, and the Prime Minister’s Office said the conversation was warm.
“The special relationship between the US and Israel is a fundamental part of Israel’s security and policy,” Netanyahu said.
Biden in turn thanked Netanyahu for congratulating him on his apparent election win, according to his office, noting that he expects to work closely with Netanyahu in the future.
Biden told Netanyahu he is deeply committed to the State of Israel and its security, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
The two agreed to meet soon to discuss matters on the agenda and the need to strengthen the alliance between the US and Israel.
The Prime Minister’s Office statement called Biden president-elect, which Netanyahu had previously not done.
Rivlin congratulated Biden on his election, saying he has “no doubt that under your leadership, the United States is committed to Israel’s security and success.”
US-Israel “friendship is based on values that are beyond partisan politics,” Rivlin said.
Biden thanked Rivlin for his congratulations and stated that he looks forward to working with Israel.
Rivlin touted the friendship between the two countries on three levels: First, that the US has no stronger ally than Israel; second, the great friendship between the Israeli and American people; and third, that “the president of the United States of America has no greater friend than the president of the State of Israel, as we have proven over the years.”
Rivlin also said he hoped Biden would work to build on the recently signed Abraham Accords and facilitate ties between Israel and more countries in the region.
In addition, Rivlin invited Biden to Jerusalem and sent his regards to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
The statement about Netanyahu’s call came out 27 minutes after Rivlin’s office sent its statement. The Prime Minister’s Office said it was scheduled in advance and not in reaction to the president calling. A spokesman for Netanyahu was unaware of the timing and said Biden did not mention speaking to Rivlin first. The President’s Residence did not respond to inquiries about the timing of the call.
The delay of a week and a half in calling Biden, when other world leaders did so much sooner – and the 12-hour delay in Netanyahu releasing a congratulatory message after news outlets called Biden’s victory on November 7 – fueled speculation that the prime minister was trying to avoid angering President Donald Trump.
Netanyahu tweeted on November 8: “Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. Joe, we’ve had a long & warm personal relationship for nearly 40 years, and I know you as a great friend of Israel. I look forward to working with both of you to further strengthen the special alliance between the US and Israel.”
But Netanyahu did not call Biden president-elect, which he continued to avoid in the ensuing days.
In his message to the cabinet the morning after, Netanyahu said: “I have a personal, long and warm connection with Joe Biden for nearly 40 years, and I know him to be a great friend of the State of Israel.” But he again stopped short of using the term president-elect.
At a press conference on Monday, Netanyahu would only say that Biden is “supposed to be appointed the next president.”
Asked who won the US election by Galei Israel Radio on Tuesday, Netanyahu said: “Why do I have to express an opinion? They have their processes, their Electoral College.”
“I will cooperate with the US administration, but stand up for our security,” he later said.