September 20, 2023
September 20, 2023

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Biden, Netanyahu to Meet on Sidelines of UN General Assembly

(JNS) U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York next week, according to Axios.

It will be the first face-to-face meeting between the two men since Netanyahu returned to power nearly nine months ago.

Three U.S. officials confirmed to the news site that the two leaders will not meet at the White House and that an internal debate occurred in Biden’s political circle regarding whether they should meet at the Oval Office or at U.N. headquarters, with some supporting the White House meeting and others pushing for a meeting in New York.

Two of the officials said that last Tuesday U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Netanyahu and informed him that Biden’s schedule would not allow for an Oval Office meeting but that they could meet in New York.

One U.S. senior official said that many in the White House thought that an Oval Office meeting would damage Biden’s standing in the Democratic Party. A second U.S. official said that several of Biden’s aides were concerned about the possibility of thousands of Israeli and American Jews descending on the White House to protest the meeting. A third U.S. official said that some of Biden’s advisers argued that an Oval Office meeting would send the wrong message about the president’s views regarding the Netanyahu government’s judicial reform effort and policies.

Two Israeli officials told Axios that Netanyahu pressed Israeli Ambassador to Washington Michael Herzog to secure him a meeting at the White House. Israeli officials also pressed the White House for an Oval Office meeting ahead of the U.N. General Assembly, according to the Israeli officials.

Israeli and U.S. officials said that Sept. 22 was discussed as a potential Oval Office date. The White House did not comment.

Netanyahu is scheduled to depart Israel on the evening of Sept. 17 following the conclusion of Rosh Hashanah, and land in San Francisco the next day, where he may meet with Elon Musk, according to Israel’s Channel 12, before heading to New York.

He is slated to address the U.N. General Assembly, likely on Friday morning, Sept. 22. Netanyahu will remain in New York over Shabbat, flying back before the start of Yom Kippur on Sunday evening.

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