The White House said that US President Joe Biden, during his meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Isaac Herzog, renewed Washington’s commitment to a negotiated two-state solution, and stressed the importance of improving the security and economic situation in the West Bank.
According to the White House, at Tuesday’s meeting, the two leaders discussed strengthening cooperation to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, as well as the growing defense ties between Tehran and Moscow.
The White House said in a statement that Biden and Herzog also discussed “the need for a consensus-based approach” regarding the package of judicial amendments proposed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Tuesday, Biden and Herzog confirmed the strength of relations between their two countries in a meeting at the White House, despite the tensions between the United States and the Netanyahu government over settlements and civil rights.
And a number of Democratic members of the US Congress said that they will not attend Wednesday’s session in Congress, in which Israeli President Isaac Herzog will deliver a speech, due to the “human rights record” of the Netanyahu government.
In a meeting in the Oval Office, Biden told Herzog that America’s commitment to Israel was “steadfast and unwavering.” Biden added that the two countries “work together to promote stability and integration in the Middle East,” as he put it.
“There is a lot of hard work,” the US president said. “We have a lot to do, but there is progress.”
The position of President of the State of Israel held by Herzog is largely ceremonial. Herzog praised the US president, calling him a “great friend” of Israel.
“There are some of our enemies who sometimes mistake the fact that we may have some differences that affect our unbreakable bond,” Herzog said.
He also said that he discussed with Biden several issues, including the Iranian nuclear threat and the internal situation in Israel. After the meeting, Herzog added, “We discussed many issues, including the Iranian nuclear threat.. Of course, we also discussed internal issues in Israel, and how important they are to the world.”
Relations between the two countries have been strained due to Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and the judicial amendment that Netanyahu’s government is seeking to endorse and has been criticized by Israeli protesters for months.
From protests in Israel due to judicial amendments
Herzog also met with Vice President Kamla Harris and is scheduled to meet Anthony Blinken, Secretary of State, and Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser.
The last time Biden and Herzog met at the White House was last October. Netanyahu returned to power in December.
On Monday, Biden invited Netanyahu to pay an official visit to the United States later this year.
Biden had delayed issuing the invitation due to concerns about the settlements and a planned amendment that critics say would strip Israel’s Supreme Court of many of its powers. The amendment plan sparked months of anti-government protests in Israel. Protests also took place on Tuesday.