Jan 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Sullivan speaks with Israel's national security adviser for the first time

Jake Sullivan and Meri Ben Shabbat
Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat U.S. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/Getty Images. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Photo: Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is the first contact between the Biden White House and Israeli prime minister's office. During the transition, the Biden team refrained from speaking to foreign governments.

Driving the news: Israeli officials said the call was meant mainly as an introduction and to kick off the dialogue.

  • One of the issues discussed was Iran.
  • The two national security advisers also covered the Abraham Accords — the biblical branding the administration has given to the individual normalization agreements between Israel and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
  • In recent days, Sullivan made calls to his counterparts in the U.K., France, Germany, Japan and South Korea.
  • The White House did not comment on the call with the Israeli national security adviser.

The big picture: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is concerned about President Biden's stated goal of trying to resume the nuclear deal with Iran. Such a move could result in tensions between the Biden administration and the Israeli government.

  • Secretary of State designate Tony Blinken said at his confirmation hearing this week that "there is a long way" until the Iran deal could be resumed.
  • He stressed that the U.S. will consult with Israel and the Gulf states before making any decisions
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