White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday downplayed the fact that US President Joe Biden has not yet called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu since taking office.
Asked during her press briefing whether the fact that Biden has not yet called Netanyahu is surprising, she replied, “I don't know that it's surprising less than two weeks into an administration. He hasn't called every foreign leader yet.”
Psaki continued, “He certainly would love to spend more time talking to foreign leaders. His first love is foreign policy. But I expect he'll continue to have additional engagements in the weeks ahead. And, obviously, we have a long and abiding relationship with Israel, important security relationship. I'm sure they'll discuss that and a range of issues when they do connect.”
Her comments follow reports that the Biden administration is beginning to renew ties with the Palestinian Authority that have been frozen since 2017.
Barak Ravid of Axios reported on Monday that the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Hady Amr, spoke by phone with multiple PA officials on Monday, in the first publicly announced interactions between the sides.
The PA had been boycotting the US since 2017, when then-President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced that the US embassy will be relocated there.
The Biden administration is planning to roll back many of Trump’s policies related to Israel and the PA, noted Ravid in his report.
When Netanyahu and Biden do speak, it is more than likely that the issue of Iran’s nuclear program will come up.
While Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement nearly three years ago and proceeded to reimpose crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Biden has expressed a desire to return to the deal.
Netanyahu is opposed to the original agreement, but Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Gilad Erdan, recently said he does not anticipate a crisis with the new Biden administration over the differences of opinion on the Iran deal.