Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held a one-on-one meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House today.
The meeting was expected to last about 25 minutes but was extended to 50 minutes.
The two leaders then gave statements to the press in the Oval office.
Bennett said, “I bring with me from Jerusalem a new spirit of good will.”
He added that “we trust your support and Israel knows we have no better and more reliable ally than the U.S… Israel always stands unequivocally with the U.S.”
“We will talk about the relationship but I want to begin with Afghanistan. The loss of our marines is tragic,” said Biden.
Bennett extended Israel’s condolences for the loss of American lives.
“I want to extend our condolences for the loss of Americans service members in Kabul,” he said.
Biden spoke about the commitment the United States has for Israel's security and the threat Iran poses.
“We will discuss the commitment we have for Israel's security and the Iranian threat. We are putting diplomacy first but if diplomacy fails we will consider other options,” the president said.
Bennett thanked the president for his words, stating: “I was happy to hear your words that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon and that there are other options if diplomacy doesn't work out.”
Bennett added: "We don’t ask for for U.S. to fight for us but we thank you for the backing you are giving us.”
Bennett spoke about Iran’s continual work to produce a nuclear weapon.
“As we sit here the Iranians are spinning their centrifuges and we have to stop it,” he said. “We developed a strategy to stop Iranian aggression in the region and permanently keep Iran from being able to break out to a nuclear weapon.”
Noting that “Israel has to be strong in order to do good,” Bennett said: “We cant lose sight for a moment of the fact we are in the toughest neighbourhood in the world. Many of our neighbours want to kill us and this is why we have to be stronger than all of our enemies combined.”
Biden said that it was “great to have the prime minister here. We’ve become close friends.”
Biden spoke of some of the things he shared in common with Bennet, including that “he’s ridden the Amtrak train a lot, from New York down to Wilmington, Delaware, I told you, we have a few corporations down in Delaware, back in the days when he was in private practice."
Biden also commented that Bennett "heads and leads the most diverse government in Israeli history.”
“We have a big agenda today, starting with COVID, which we’ve been talking about, and both our successful vaccination programs. We’ve talked a little bit, and we’ll continue to talk about the issue of booster shots,” said Biden. “And you started your program a little early, and it’s met with great results, and w’ere going to start in September but we’re considering your advice that we should start earlier.”
Biden added: “We’re also going to discuss the unwavering commitment we have in the United States to Israel’s security. And I fully fully support replenishing Israel’s Iron Dome system. And we are also going to discuss the threat from Iran , and our commitment to ensure that Iran never develops a nuclear weapon. But we are putting diplomacy first and seeing where that takes us."
He continued: "But if diplomacy fails, we are ready to turn to other options. We will support Israel’s developing as well deeper ties with Arab and Muslim neighbors and globally. That’s a trend that I think should be encouraged not discouraged, and we will do what we can to be value added.”