Nov 17, 2020 - World

Biden speaks with Israeli leaders Netanyahu and Rivlin

Biden (L) with Netanyahu in 2010. Photo: Baz Ratner-Pool/Getty Images

President-elect Biden spoke on the phone today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin as part of series of congratulatory phone calls with leaders around the world.

The big picture: The order in which these calls are returned by an incoming president is closely watched. Biden called Netanyahu and Rivlin after speaking with the leaders of nine other U.S. allies over the past few days.

Flashback: President Trump spoke with Netanyahu the day after he was elected in 2016, along with the leaders of several other countries including Egypt. America's closest European allies were left waiting a bit longer.

  • Biden, by contrast, started with Canada and then moved to U.S. allies in Europe (France, Germany, the U.K., Ireland and Italy) and the Asia-Pacific (Australia, Japan and South Korea). Biden also spoke with Pope Francis.
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a call with Biden shortly after Netanyahu's.
  • Between the lines: That might be an indication that Biden skipped over America's other Middle East allies, perhaps to emphasize the importance of working with fellow democracies.

What they're saying:

  • It is unclear whom Biden called first, but Rivlin was first to issue a statement: “As a long-standing friend of the State of Israel, you know that our friendship is based on values that are beyond partisan politics and that we have no doubt that, under your leadership, the United States is committed to Israel’s security and success."
  • Rivlin added he hoped to work with Biden “to build further bridges and hope across the region as the recently signed Abraham Accords have done." He invited Biden for a meeting in Jerusalem and asked him to also convey his best wishes to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
  • After his own 20-minute call with Biden, Netanyahu issued a statement referring for the first time to Biden as “the President-elect." Netanyahu said Biden stressed in the call that he is deeply committed to Israel’s security.

What’s next: Netanyahu said in his statement that he and Biden agreed to meet soon in order to strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance.

Go deeper: Incoming Israeli ambassador will have to win over Democrats

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