Working with Jerusalem for 'peaceful, integrated Middle East'

On Israel’s 75th birthday, Biden says US ‘still proud’ to be among its top friends

US ‘recognizes the resilience of Israel’s democracy — the bedrock for our robust and special relationship,’ says president, calling himself a ‘lifelong friend and supporter’

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

United States President Joe Biden during a welcoming ceremony, at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on July 13, 2022, on  his first official visit to Israel since becoming US president. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)
United States President Joe Biden during a welcoming ceremony, at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on July 13, 2022, on his first official visit to Israel since becoming US president. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

WASHINGTON — Characterizing himself as a “lifelong friend and supporter of Israel,” US President Joe Biden on Tuesday congratulated the Jewish state on 75 years of independence.

In a statement, Biden highlighted his administration’s ongoing work with the Israeli government to “create a more prosperous, peaceful, and integrated Middle East.” The wording was general enough to ostensibly refer both to efforts to mitigate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the advancement of additional normalization agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

“As strong partners, we are working together to build new alliances to meet 21st century challenges like climate change and global health,” Biden added.

The White House statement appeared aimed at underscoring that the bilateral relationship transcends brewing differences between the Democratic administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government over the latter’s judicial overhaul and policies toward the Palestinians.

“On behalf of the people of the United States, I extend our best wishes to the people of Israel as they celebrate 75 years of statehood,” the American president said.

“When David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence in 1948, he announced the birth of a state ‘based on freedom, justice and peace.’ Just 11 minutes later, [US] President [Harry] Truman announced that the United States would be the first nation to recognize the government of Israel. Today, we are still proud to be counted among the first of Israel’s friends and allies. And the United States recognizes the resilience of Israel’s democracy—the bedrock for our robust and special relationship.”

Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, accompanied by Israel Ambassador to the U.S. Abba Eban, visits President Harry Truman during their visit to the states, 1/5/1951. (Government Press Office, FRITZ COHEN)

“As a life-long friend and supporter of the State of Israel, I have worked my entire career to deepen and strengthen our partnership. And I have seen first-hand the benefits to both our nations. Together, we have achieved remarkable advances in science, medicine, and technology that will benefit our people for generations to come.”

“Today, as we mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, we reaffirm our enduring friendship and commitment to Israel’s security. Yom Ha’atzmaut Sameach!” Biden added.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken put out a similar statement congratulating Israel.

“Over the last 75 years, the United States and Israel have built a partnership that transcends politics and benefits the people of both nations,” Blinken said. “As we seek to promote peace and prosperity in the region, we will also remain unwavering in our commitment to Israel’s security and democracy, endeavoring to strengthen further the decades-old US-Israel bond.”

In a video message, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides hailed Israel’s “leadership in the Middle East,” and celebrated the “strong, fruitful relationship” between the Jewish state and the US.

“We have seen Israel throughout its many years become a leader in the Middle East. We are proud to stand alongside them and celebrate them as they reach this milestone anniversary,” Nides said.

The messages followed several months of tensions between the two governments, which included a public rebuke from Biden himself of the government’s judicial overhaul and the summoning of Israel’s ambassador to the US for a symbolic dressing-down after the Knesset passed legislation paving the way for Israelis to return to areas in the northern West Bank that were evacuated as part of the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza.

Still, the disagreements have not been marked by the same degree of animosity that was present during the Obama administration. Biden’s long-held affinity toward the Jewish state has led many of the bilateral spats to be settled behind closed doors, particularly as the 2024 presidential election nears, with Biden announcing his reelection bid earlier Tuesday.

US President Joe Biden meets then opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu (right) at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, July 14, 2022. At left is Secretary of State Antony Blinken; 2nd left is US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides. (GPO)

Also congratulating Israel on its 75th Independence Day were German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Latvian President Egils Levits.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen praised Israel’s 75 years of “dynamism, ingenuity and ground-breaking innovations” in a video message posted to Twitter on Wednesday.

“You have literally made the desert bloom, as I could see during my visit to the Negev last year.”

“We have more in common than geography would suggest,” she said. “Our shared culture, our values, and hundreds of thousands of dual European-Israeli citizens have created a deep connection between us.”

“Europe and Israel are bound to be friends and allies,” von der Leyen declared, before wishing the country a happy birthday in Hebrew.

Most Popular
read more: