White House says Biden-Netanyahu meeting to take place in US, ‘likely in Fall’

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  July 18, 2023

Earlier statement from White House did not mention a US meeting between the two leaders.

The White House has confirmed to Middle East Eye that there will be a meeting “in the United States” between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that it will likely take place “in the Fall”.

The White House on Monday released a readout of a call that took place between Biden and Netanyahu, which, unlike the Israeli readout, did not mention that Biden invited Netanyahu for a meeting in the US.

Instead, the White House statement said that Biden and Netanyahu agreed to “consult with regional partners” with the goal of “convening a meeting soon in the Aqaba/Sharm al-Sheikh format as soon as possible”.

The statement did not mention when this potential meeting would take place nor say whether it would take place in the US.

However, in an email on Tuesday, a White House official said that there will be a meeting taking place between the two leaders, and it would happen in the US.

“The meeting between President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu will be separate from the Aqaba/Sharm format. It will be later this year, likely in the fall, in the United States,” the official said.

Earlier on Monday, Netanyahu’s office released a statement regarding the call, which stated: “President Biden invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet soon in the United States.”

The vagueness of the statement, however, made it unclear whether Netanyahu was saying that the US president was extending an invitation to the White House or another stage like the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The phone call, which was the first one between the two leaders to take place in seven months, comes after Biden said in an interview with CNN that the current iteration of the government in Israel is the most extreme he has seen since he started working with Israeli prime ministers.

It also took place the day before a visit to the US by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who will be in meetings at the White House and deliver an address to a joint session of Congress.

The Aqaba and Sharm format mentioned in the White House statement refers to several previous meetings that have taken place between Egyptian, Jordanian, Israeli, Palestinian, and American officials to discuss a “peaceful settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians”.

The White House readout from Monday further stated that Biden “underscored his iron-clad, unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and condemned recent acts of terror against Israeli citizens”.

Biden also shared concerns about Jewish settlement growth in the occupied West Bank and said there was a need for “the broadest possible consensus” when it comes to Israel’s judicial reforms.