US President Joe Biden said on Thursday he looked forward to working with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and promoting regional peace, including between Israelis and Palestinians, with the new Israeli government.
“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 in a statement.
“As we have throughout my administration, 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.”
Netanyahu — who had a tense relationship with the last US president of Biden’s Democratic Party, Barack Obama — was sworn in Thursday, leading the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.
The government, Netanyahu’s sixth, includes extreme-right figures such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, who once hung a portrait in his home of a gunman who massacred Palestinian worshippers and now will serve as national security minister.
As Netanyahu formed a coalition, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration would judge the cabinet by “the policies they pursue, not the personalities that happen to form a government.”
US officials say they hope to encourage moderation on Netanyahu’s part by quickly convening a meeting between foreign ministers of Israel and Arab countries that recognize the Jewish state.
Three Arab nations — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco — normalized ties with Israel in 2020 under Netanyahu, who considered the so-called Abraham Accords a crowning achievement, as did then-president Donald Trump.
Biden said the United States “is working to promote a region that’s increasingly integrated, prosperous and secure, with benefits for all of its people.”
In a subtle jab at past suggestions by Netanyahu that the Abraham Accords showed it was time to move on from diplomacy centered on the Palestinian issue, Biden called for work on a “more hopeful vision of a region at peace, including between Israelis and Palestinians.”