Johnson invites Bennett to visit UK, in first phone call between leaders

British prime minister congratulates Israeli counterpart on formation of new government and they agree to continue cooperation in battle against pandemic

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Composite/AP)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Composite/AP)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke Friday with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for the first time since Bennett took office, inviting the Israeli leader to visit the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The statement said the two leaders discussed their respective strategies for managing the coronavirus pandemic while agreeing to “continue cooperation” on the matter moving forward.

Both countries, which have led two of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns, have seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks with the spread of the new Delta variant.

Johnson also used the opportunity to congratulate Bennett on the formation of a new government. Bennett responded by highlighting his coalition’s diversity — eight parties across the political spectrum and for the first time an Arab faction as well.

Bennett said his new government is cooperating well together, according to the Israeli readout of the conversation. There was no immediate comment on the conversation from the UK.

The two leaders lauded the warm ties between Israel and the UK as well as the cooperation in a variety of areas, including security issues.

Johnson invited Bennett to visit the UK, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Johnson had been among the world leaders who congratulated Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid on their new government last month.

“As we emerge from COVID-19, this is an exciting time for the UK and Israel to continue working together to advance peace and prosperity for all,” he tweeted then.

Since taking office Bennett has spoken to a number of major world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angel Merkel.

He is expected to travel to the White House later this month.

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