Biden and Netanyahu Lastly Speak, however No Particulars Are Revealed About What
President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an hour-long phone conversation on Wednesday, four weeks after he took office, at a time of clear disagreement over the new administration’s efforts to resume the nuclear deal with Iran.
Both countries issued official descriptions of the appeal, vaguely describing it, and did not provide details of the conversation, particularly about Iran. The White House statement simply stated: “Together, leaders have discussed the importance of continuing close consultation on regional security issues, including Iran.”
That statement was noteworthy because Israeli officials still frequently express their dislike for President Barack Obama keeping them in the dark on early rapprochements with Iran in the run-up to negotiations that ultimately led to the 2015 accord.
The two negotiators who conducted this secret diplomacy were Jake Sullivan, who is now Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, and William J. Burns, his nominee for CIA director. Mr Netanyahu actively opposed the deal in Congress, calling on President Donald J. Trump to give up on it, which he did in 2018.
Mr. Biden told reporters that the call with Mr. Netanyahu was a “good talk” but didn’t provide any details. Israeli officials had been concerned that it was so delayed and that it only happened after Mr. Biden spoke with leaders of other allies as well as opponents such as President Xi Jinping of China. American officials said the delay was of no consequence, but officials clearly tried to agree on an Iranian negotiating strategy before engaging Mr Netanyahu.
The prime minister’s office described the conversation personally and said in a statement that “the two leaders have acknowledged their longstanding personal ties and stated that they will work together to further strengthen the strong alliance between Israel and the US.”
The new Washington
Apr. 17, 2021 at 8:23 am ET
The White House description, on the other hand, mentioned the strength of the alliance but said nothing about the relationship between Mr Biden and Mr Netanyahu, which was part of the new administration’s efforts to depersonalize the interactions between the two countries.
“The president reiterated his personal history of unwavering commitment to Israeli security and expressed his intention to strengthen all aspects of the US-Israel partnership, including our strong defense cooperation,” the White House statement said. It reiterated Mr Biden’s decision to build on the Abraham Accords, the regional agreements Israel made with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – two key Arab allies of the United States – at the end of the Trump administration.
The conversation with the two leaders took place before Mr Biden’s Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, is due to speak this week with Britain, Germany and France, the European nations that have participated in the Iran negotiations. But government officials seem in no rush to get in direct contact with the Iranians or feel constrained by deadlines in Tehran.
The Iranian government informed the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday that as of next week, Tehran will no longer be bound by the “Additional Protocol”, an agreement with United Nations inspectors that allows the inspection of undeclared nuclear facilities. Allowing these deeper sample inspections was an important requirement in the Iranian nuclear deal.
In an interview on NPR on Tuesday, Mr. Blinken made it clear that even if the United States were able to resume the deal, it would have to be the first step in a broader, longer-lasting deal, not just a replica of what Obama did -Government agreed almost six years ago
“The time has passed,” said Mr Blinken. “So if we want to get back on the deal, when Iran returns to compliance and we do the same, we have to work on an agreement that is longer and stronger than the original.”