Netanyahu invites Biden for solidarity visit to Israel

White House mum on possible visit, which would be unlikely to be announced in advance due to security risks as war expected to intensify

US President Joe Biden meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, September 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
US President Joe Biden meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, September 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited US President Joe Biden to Israel on a solidarity visit amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, a Netanyahu aide told The Times of Israel Sunday.

White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson remained mum on a potential visit, saying, “We have no new travel to announce.”

Hebrew media outlets reported that Netanyahu’s office and the White House were examining the details and positively considering the invitation.

Any possible visit would be unlikely to be announced in advance due to security risks.

On October 7, the Hamas terror group launched a devastating onslaught that killed some 1,300 Israelis, most of them civilians. At least 155 people were abducted by terrorists during the assault and are being held inside the Gaza Strip.

In the eight days since, Israel has responded with an intense bombing campaign that Gaza health officials say has claimed over 2,600 lives. Israel says its offensive is aimed at destroying Hamas’s infrastructure, and has vowed to eliminate the entire terror group, which rules the Strip.

Smoke and fire rise following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, October 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Israel has warned more than one million northern Gaza residents to flee to the south of the territory ahead of expected ground battles focused in and around Gaza City.

Biden has spoken out vociferously in support of Israel and has sent arms to bolster Israel’s effort to uproot and eliminate Hamas, as well as dispatching two aircraft carrier groups to the region. But he has also cautioned Israel against actions that may worsen the Strip’s humanitarian woes.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Israel last week and is expected back in the country on Monday. In between, he has toured Arab nations in the region to rally pressure on Hamas and to prevent the conflict from spreading to Israel’s northern border, as well as to negotiate the entry of humanitarian aid into the embattled enclave.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 14, 2023. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

According to the State Department, at least 29 Americans were killed following Hamas’s bloody incursion into Israel on October 7, and several more are thought to be held hostage in Gaza by the terror group.

Biden visited Israel in July 2022. Last month he met with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the first time the two met in the United States since Netanyahu returned to power in December 2022.

The US president had been seen as keeping Netanyahu at arm’s length due to the latter’s far-right governing coalition and its divisive judicial overhaul.

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