Biden: We Want to Meet with Israelis

Vice President tells American Jewish leaders the United States wants to meet with Israel to discuss military assistance.

Elad Benari ,

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

The United States wants to meet with Israel to discuss how the U.S. can ensure Israel's military advantage over its enemies, Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday, according to The Associated Press (AP).

Officials in Washington later said such a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was already in the works.

Biden raised the prospect of increased support for Israel as met American Jewish leaders for his annual reception ahead of the Jewish High Holy Days.

Ad-libbing in front of a few dozen guests at his official residence, Biden said the U.S. was "fully, thoroughly prepared" to sit down with Israel's intelligence and defense community to ask a simple question: "What do you need?" He turned to an aide and asked, "Have we announced the meeting with the Israelis?"

It was unclear which American or Israeli officials would be attending the meeting, and when. But a senior Obama administration official told AP the U.S is discussing possible dates with Israel for a meeting with Netanyahu, the first such meeting since the Iran deal sent ties between Jerusalem and Washington into a deep chill.

The administration official wasn't authorized to comment by name and requested anonymity.

The official would only say that the U.S. expects President Barack Obama and Netanyahu to meet "in the coming months".

In previous years, Obama and Netanyahu have held one-on-one meetings in September, around the time of the UN General Assembly.

Netanyahu has been one of the fiercest critics of the Iran deal, which has put him at odds with Obama and his administration.

The tensions have been such that Secretary of State John Kerry recently skipped Israel when he visited the Middle East for talks which dealt, among other things, with the Iran deal.

Recently, however, the tensions seemed to have calmed down. Obama recently downplayed the disagreements with Netanyahu. In a webcast in which he addressed the heads of Jewish communities in North America, the president said that “we’ve repeatedly had times where the administration and the Israeli government had disagreements. That doesn’t affect the core commitments we have for each other.”

Kerry has taken steps to improve the strained ties, phoning Netanyahu over the weekend to discuss Iran and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to Israel's security.

State Department Spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday night that Kerry will meet Netanyahu in the course of the UN General Assembly in New York in late September.