President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will seek to reset the tone of US-Israeli relations in their first White House meeting and find common ground on Iran despite differences over handling its nuclear program.
In talks overshadowed by the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the two leaders on Thursday will try to turn the page on years of tensions between Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, who was close to former President Donald Trump, and the last Democratic administration led by Barack Obama with Biden as his vice president.
In what’s been planned as a low-key meeting, Bennett wants to move on from Netanyahu’s combative public style and instead manage disagreements constructively behind closed doors between Washington and its closest Middle East ally.
The visit gives Biden an opportunity to demonstrate business as usual with a key partner while contending with the complex situation in Afghanistan.
Biden’s biggest foreign policy crisis since taking office has not only hurt his approval ratings at home but raised questions about his credibility among both friends and foes.
Topping the agenda is Iran, one of the thorniest issues between the Biden administration and Israel.
Bennett, a far-right politician who ended Netanyahu’s 12-year run as prime minister in June, is expected to press Biden to harden his approach to Iran and halt negotiations aimed at reviving the international nuclear deal that Trump abandoned.