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Biden only to meet Netanyahu at UN, not White House: report

Biden only to meet Netanyahu at UN General Assembly, not White House: report
2 min read
13 September, 2023
Biden and Netanyahu have not met since Netanyahu formed Israel's current far-right government nine months ago.
Biden has refused to meet with Netanyahu for the past nine months [Getty]

US President Joe Biden is set to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) set for the 18-19 September, following discussions about a meeting at the White House.

The decision follows Israeli pressure on White House officials for a meeting to happen, sparking an internal debate within the Biden administration over the best course of action.

According to Axios, White House officials weighed how a meeting would affect Biden's standing within the Democratic party.

They expressed concern over potential anti-Netanyahu protests near the White House and considered what signal it would send following Biden's criticism of the Israeli government and its controversial judicial overhaul.

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In July, Biden stated that Israel's current far-right government held "some of the most extreme" members he had ever seen, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir

Both have made racist and inflammatory comments about Palestinians.

Biden also previously warned Netanyahu over his judicial overhaul, stating that he should "walk away" from the plans and publicly expressed concerns for the direction of Israeli democracy.

The US president has not met with Netanyahu in the nine months since he re-entered government following a successful election in November 2022.

Frustrated by the cold shoulder from Washington, Netanyahu has pressured Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog to arrange a meeting with Biden.

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According to Axios, a US official has stated that Netanyahu will be invited to the White House later this year, although this is dependent on the movement of the judicial overhaul legislation and how the situation develops.

The upcoming meeting at the UNGA comes as the US attempts to secure a normalisation agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which has seen US Secretary of State Antony Blinken embark on shuttle diplomacy between the two countries in a bid to iron out an agreement.