Rivlin, ahead of US visit, meets with Bennett and Lapid to coordinate message

President will present Israel’s positions on Iran and the nuclear deal, Gaza Strip and Syria when he meets with Biden at White House next week

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) and President Reuven Rivlin meet at the President's House, June 23, 2021. (President's House)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) and President Reuven Rivlin meet at the President's House, June 23, 2021. (President's House)

President Reuven Rivlin met Wednesday with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to discuss the message the president will deliver to Washington on behalf of the country during his visit next week to the United States, his office said.

During talks at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, the two discussed the positions that Rivlin will present to US President Joe Biden regarding key regional issues such as Iran, Israel’s objection to a US return to the 2015 nuclear deal, the Gaza Strip, and Syria, the Ynet news site reported.

Rivlin met later Wednesday with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who also holds the post of alternate prime minister, for what the President’s Residence described as a “first update” before the president’s trip next week.

The president will land in New York on Sunday and fly to Washington on Monday.

There, Rivlin will meet with Biden at the White House. During the 3-day trip, he has meetings scheduled at the United Nations with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and several ambassadors. He will also hold talks with executives at major Jewish organizations, sources familiar with the schedule told The Times of Israel.

Rivlin’s seven-year term as president is due to end on July 7, and the White House said Sunday the visit “will honor the dedication he has shown to strengthening the friendship between the two countries over the course of many years.”

President Reuven Rivlin (R) meets with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on June 23, 2021. (President’s Residence)

The invitation to the US was extended last month by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as the top American diplomat visited the region to help shore up a ceasefire that ended the 11-day war between Israel and terror groups in Gaza.

The president is scheduled to return to Israel on June 30.

The visit will come two weeks after Israel’s new government was sworn in, removing Benjamin Netanyahu from power after 12 years.

Israel strongly opposes a return by the US to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action gave sanctions relief to Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons.

The JCPOA has unraveled since former US president Donald Trump pulled out in 2018 and reimposed US sanctions, after which Iran also began to drop its commitments, enriching uranium to banned levels, among other actions.

Biden is interested in returning to the deal but also wants to renegotiate it with terms that Iran rejects. The US and Iran have been working to revive the flagging agreement in European Union-mediated talks in Vienna.

President Reuven Rivlin, left, with then US Vice President Joe Biden at the President’s residence in Jerusalem on March 9, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Rivlin, 81, will be succeeded by Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog next month. Biden congratulated Herzog upon his election last month by the Knesset.

The US president’s relationship with Herzog, a former head of the dovish Labor party, spans decades. They met several times when Biden was vice president and Herzog led the Knesset opposition to Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

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