An Israeli official spoke to Arutz Sheva on Friday to summarize the meeting between US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
The official described the atmosphere in the room during the meeting and said, "[Biden] is a very nice person and he was very focused and sharp. Immediately there was a good atmosphere. Twice someone came in to try to speed things up, and he said: 'I have a friend here. We have to continue.' Biden truly loves Israel. He is from the older generation of Democrats. He urged Bennett to 'call me directly' [should he need anything]".
The official noted that “We set four goals: Liaising with the president and national security teams, aligning and deeply sharing with them the strategy vis-à-vis Iran - it was important that the goal be that Iran would never have nuclear weapons and not just ‘on my watch’, a Presidential directive regarding visas for Israelis and locking up the replenishing of the Iron Dome inventory."
Bennett described to Biden during the meeting the context of the decision he made regarding the formation of the government, the significance and why he did it - and described to him that Israel was on the verge of a fifth election with polarization, unprecedented level of poison, Fake News and blackmail campaigns “and I felt that if we reached a fifth election we would destroy the country. I told my kids at home, 'Daddy's going to take a step, they are going to say a lot of things about dad. Just so you know I'm doing this for my country’”.
On Iran, the official said that “the Americans will probably continue on the diplomatic route to an agreement, but as Biden said in the Oval Office, in case that does not work out, all options are on the table.”
“The Iranian issue is very important to the Americans. We are at a very difficult point on the enrichment axis, Iran has really made progress, and there are things that cannot be undone at the push of a button,” added the official.
Asked whether the issue of the US Consulate for Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem came up during the meeting, the official said, “The issue came up, it is an open issue on which Israel's position is known and that is that Israel has a capital and it is the capital of Israel only.”
Regarding the settlement in Judea and Samaria, the official said, “On this issue, too, the policy of the current government will continue, there will be no sharp turnarounds, it will continue at a different pace than in the past.”
“The American position is well known, the US opposes settlement construction. Both sides are determined not to define the relationship around this issue,” he added.
On the Palestinian Arab issue, Israel will make progress on issues of quality of life and the crossings to Israel which are the most significant issues for Palestinian Arab citizens, the official said.
“The Prime Minister raised the commitment regarding prisoners and missing persons and specifically explained to the Americans the encounter in which Hadar Goldin’s body was taken by Hamas occurred during a breach of a ceasefire that was under American auspices, so there is an American connection to the story.”
“Israel does not want to return to Gaza, but wants no missiles to be fired, no missiles to be collected and the prisoners to be returned,” the official added.
Arutz Sheva asked the official whether the cessation of violence is a condition for the rehabilitation of Gaza.
“Indeed,” the official replied. “We stopped the transfer of suitcases with money. Tactical things will be permitted, but concrete things will be conditional on our three things - that they will not fire rockets, that they will not arm themselves and that they will return the prisoners.
Another issue that came up during the meeting is that Israel sees great importance in keeping US forces in Iraq and Syria, with the official noting that “it is important for the entire region”.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)