President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday and invited the embattled conservative leader to visit the United States.
The two spoke about a “broad range of global and regional issue,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters. The topics discussed included the coordination to counter Iran and the need to maintain the viability of a two-state solution, Kirby added.
“The two leaders agreed to remain in close touch, and to meet in the United States later this year to further discuss matters of mutual concern,” a White House official said.
The relationship between the two leaders has been rocky, and prior to Monday’s call the prime minister had not been invited to the White House in the seven months since he assumed the premiership. Instead, Biden chose to host Israeli President Isaac Herzog, whose position is largely ceremonial. Herzog is set to visit the White House on Tuesday and will later address Congress.
The apparent tension stems from attempts by Israel’s right-wing government to limit the strength of the country’s judiciary. The plans for judiciary reforms have sparked massive unrest in the small Middle Eastern country, and Biden said in March that Netanyahu would not be welcomed at the White House in the “near term.” (RELATED: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Rushed To Hospital)
During Monday’s phone conversation, Biden called for “the need for the broadest possible consensus” on judicial reform in Israel, Kirby said.
The president had expressed concern about the state of judicial overhaul in March.
“Like many strong supporters of Israel, I’m very concerned. And I’m concerned that they get this straight. They cannot continue down this road. And I’ve sort of made that clear. I — hopeful — hopefully, the prime minister will act in a way that he is going to try to work out some genuine compromise. But that remains to be seen,” Biden said on March 28.
Netanyahu announced a pause in his judicial reforms in late March after mass protests nearly shut down the entire country. The prime minister later decided to push on with some of the reforms, sparking more anti-government protests.
In a CNN interview published July 9, Biden dodged the question of when Netanyahu would be visiting the U.S. and said the prime minister’s coalition has some “of the most extreme” cabinet ministers he’d ever seen in Israel.
The White House did not immediately respond to an inquiry from the Daily Caller.