In a statement reacting to Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power in Israel, President Joe Biden called the controversial leader a “friend” but promised to press him on a two-state solution with Palestine.
Biden’s remarks came shortly after Israel swore in Netanyahu as prime minister Thursday, ushering in what’s anticipated to be the most religiously conservative government in the country’s 70-plus-year history after a year with him in the Israeli parliament’s opposition.
“I look forward to working with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has been my friend for decades, to jointly address the many challenges and opportunities facing Israel and the Middle East region, including threats from Iran,” Biden said.
“And as we have throughout my administration,” he continued, “the United States will continue to support the two-state solution and to oppose policies that endanger its viability or contradict our mutual interests and values.”
Biden has been a strong proponent of Israel and Palestine, which have been at war for decades, finding a path forward as two states and becoming a “region at peace,” the president said Thursday.
But that’s not the vision outlined in Netanyahu’s government platform, which claims that “the Jewish people have exclusive and indisputable rights” over all of Israel and Palestine. He plans to increase the construction of Israeli settlements in the disputed West Bank territory and establish more Israeli outposts in Palestinian zones ― a move that is sure to generate strong international opposition and outrage from Israel’s secular and progressive citizens.
Netanyahu, the country’s longest serving prime minister, won reelection to the leadership post last month a year after being ousted by an alliance of eight parties who opposed him maintaining power while on trial for corruption.
Netanyahu, who remains on trial but denies the accusations, responded by teaming up with the country’s far-right parties to secure power once again.