The Prime Minister’s Office and the White House have been holding advanced talks on arranging a trip to Washington by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in July to meet US President Joe Biden, according to a report Monday.
Bennett’s office confirmed the talks to the Walla news site and said a final date will soon be determined. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that Biden “looks forward to hosting Prime Minister Bennett soon. We’re working on a date.”
The trip would be the first meeting between Bennett and Biden and the premier’s first official international trip since taking office earlier this month.
Citing Israeli and US sources, Walla reported the talks on the potential visit were being led by Bennett’s diplomatic adviser Shimrit Meir and the US National Security Council’s coordinator for the Middle East, Brett McGurk. Israeli Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan was also reportedly involved.
The Israeli sources said both the Prime Minister’s Office and the White House have said that they want the meeting to be held as soon as possible, and that the dates will be decided soon.
An American source quoted in the report also said the fact that Biden called Bennett just hours after the new Israeli government was sworn in earlier this month showed the US president’s commitment to working with the premier, who replaced Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The report came as Biden was due to host outgoing President Reuven Rivlin at the White House on Monday and a day after Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for their first sit-down since Lapid took office.
Earlier Monday, Bennett accused the opposition and its leader, Netanyahu, of trying to harm Israel-US ties just to challenge his new government, after a false report claimed Biden was planning to revoke his predecessor Donald Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli, and after Netanyahu slammed Bennett for allegedly giving up Israel’s right to independently attack Iranian nuclear sites.