JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday acknowledged differences with U.S. President Joe Biden over Iranian and Palestinian issues, but said they enjoy a “very strong” working relationship.
The White House on Friday denied that Biden was snubbing Netanyahu by failing to include him so far in an early round of phone calls to foreign leaders since taking office on Jan. 20.
Netanyahu dismissed any notion that Biden was intentionally excluding him, telling Israel’s Channel 12 television channel: “He’ll call … We have had very strong friendly relations for nearly 40 years, dating from the time I came to Washington as an Israeli diplomatic representative and he was a young senator from Delaware.”
There has been speculation that the Democratic president could be signalling displeasure over Netanyahu’s close ties with former President Donald Trump, who called the right-wing leader two days after his inauguration in 2017.
“We also have many things we agree on and the alliance is very strong,” Netanyahu said. “But there are also differences, on the issue of Iran and on the Palestinian issue as well.”
Netanyahu may find the alliance tested if Washington restores U.S. participation in the Iran nuclear deal, from which Trump withdrew, and opposes Israeli settlement building on occupied land where Palestinians seek statehood.
On Friday, the White House said Biden and Netanyahu would speak soon, but gave no date.
(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Dan Grebler)