Biden welcomes new Israeli government, reaffirms security support

Israeli PM Naftali Bennett (right) and foreign minister Yair Lapid attend the first Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on June 13, 2021.
Israeli PM Naftali Bennett (right) and foreign minister Yair Lapid attend the first Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on June 13, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Joe Biden said the United States remained committed to Israel's security and would work with its new government after Israel's parliament ended Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year run as prime minister on Sunday (June 13).

In a statement that made no mention of Netanyahu, Biden welcomed the new government coalition led by nationalist Naftali Bennett and sought to reaffirm US-Israel ties.

The White House said Biden spoke with Bennett on Sunday “to offer his warm congratulations.”

Biden “expressed his firm intent to deepen cooperation between the United States and Israel on the many challenges and opportunities facing the region. The leaders agreed that they and their teams would consult closely on all matters related to regional security, including Iran,” the White House said.

“United States remains unwavering in its support for Israel’s security,” Biden said in an earlier statement.

“My administration is fully committed to working with the new Israeli government to advance security, stability, and peace for Israelis, Palestinians, and people throughout the broader region.”

By contrast, Biden did not speak to Netanyahu for nearly a month after the US president took office on Jan 20.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken also issued statements welcoming their counterparts in the new Israeli government.

Bennett, a former defence minister and a high-tech millionaire, won by a thin 60-59 majority vote, and the coalition of left-wing, centrist, right-wing and Arab parties is likely to be fragile.

Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving leader, vowed to return to power soon.