Israeli PM Naftali Bennett to meet with US President Biden

Naftali Bennett’s meeting with Joe Biden comes amid heightened tensions with Iran and new Israeli bombings in Gaza, in spite of a ceasefire.

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will conduct a meeting with US President Joe Biden, amid the expanding influence of Iran, and as Israel resumed its bombing of the besieged Gaza Strip caused by Palestinian protests.

Bennett, on his first state visit overseas since taking office, was scheduled on Wednesday to meet with senior administration officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and with Biden on Thursday.

In a statement released by the Israeli PM’s office before his visit, Bennett said the top priority in his conversation with Biden would be Iran, “especially the leapfrogging in the past two to three years in the Iranian nuclear program”.

He said other issues would also be discussed, including the COVID-19 pandemic and economic matters.

Recent months have seen a string of attacks on Israeli-connected shipping, believed to have been carried out by Iran. Furthermore, friction between Israel and Hamas has been building in the three months since an 11-day relentless Israeli offensive killed 265 people in Gaza.

Indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas, the group that governs Gaza, to reach an arrangement for the reconstruction of the heavily bombarded enclave have broken down in the past week.

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