- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 17, 2021

President Biden on Wednesday spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time since Mr. Biden was sworn into office last month.

Mr. Biden described it as a good conversation.

The two leaders talked about Iran, among other subjects, and Mr. Biden reaffirmed his support for the recent normalization of relations between Israel and other countries in the Middle East like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, according to the White House.

The Trump administration helped broker those peace deals, known as the Abraham Accords.

“The president affirmed his personal history of steadfast commitment to Israel’s security and conveyed his intent to strengthen all aspects of the U.S.-Israel partnership, including our strong defense cooperation,” the White House said. “He underscored the importance of working to advance peace throughout the region, including between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Mr. Netanyahu had announced earlier that the call had taken place. The prime minister’s office described it as a “very warm and friendly” conversation that lasted about an hour.

The two spoke about recent peace accords, the coronavirus pandemic, and “the Iranian threat and regional challenges,” according to Mr. Netanyahu‘s office.

Israel is, of course, an ally,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said this week. “Israel is a country where we have an important strategic security relationship.”

The call with Mr. Netanyahu took place only after Mr. Biden spoke with leaders of other major U.S. allies like France, Canada, and Germany. It also took place after Mr. Biden spoke with more adversarial leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Mr. Netanyahu and former President Obama did not have the warmest relationship when Mr. Biden served as Mr. Obama’s vice president.

Israel is staunchly opposed to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that the Obama administration helped broker. Former President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018.

The Biden administration says it’s interested in re-engaging Tehran on the deal.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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