Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, in what will be the first face-to-face between the two leaders since Netanyahu returned to power nine months ago.
The closed-door meeting, which is scheduled to take place at Manhattan’s InterContinental Hotel around 10 a.m. local time, will likely focus on the Iranian threat, Saudi-Israeli normalization and the Palestinian issue, as well as Netanyahu’s domestic judicial reform agenda.
The premier began his first trip to the U.S. since being voted back into office on Nov. 1, 2022, with a visit to California on Monday, where he met with X (formerly Twitter) owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the electric vehicle company’s plant in Fremont.
Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, landed in New York early Tuesday morning to participate in this week’s gathering of world leaders for the U.N. General Assembly’s annual general debate.
Since his arrival, Netanyahu has met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Paraguayan President Santiago Peña.
U.S. officials told Axios last week that an internal debate occurred in Biden’s political circle regarding whether he should meet Netanyahu at the White House or in New York, with some supporting the Oval Office setting and others pushing for a sit-down at the U.N.
Last Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Netanyahu to inform him that Biden’s schedule would only allow for a meeting in New York.
Opponents of Netanyahu’s government are expected to gather outside the InterContinental Hotel on Wednesday morning, with simultaneous protests planned near the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and the American consular building in Tel Aviv.
In a letter sent ahead of the meeting, the Israel Defense and Security Forum (IDSF), an NGO made up of thousands of former Israeli defense and security service officers, called on Biden “not to be sidetracked by the spillover of Israeli domestic politics” and to “allow our democratic process to run its course without external influences, including those of well-intended friends.
“It would be a shame for the U.S. and for Israel if strategic opportunities to advance our interests in the region were to be squandered as a result of political diversions and provocations,” stated the IDSF.
Meanwhile, 12 lawmakers from Netanyahu’s Likud Party warned the prime minister against making concessions to the Palestinians in exchange for normalization with Saudi Arabia.
“We will agree to peace only in exchange for peace,” the MKs wrote in a missive that was signed by, among others, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Yuli Edelstein and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon.
“We give you our backing to present a strong position ahead of your meeting with the U.S. president and world leaders that Israel stands by its rights irrespective of attempts to make peace with Arab nations,” said the letter.
Later on Wednesday, Netanyahu will meet with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and Yoon Suk Yeol, the president of South Korea.
Netanyahu is slated to address the U.N. General Assembly on Friday. The prime minister will remain in New York over Shabbat, flying back shortly before the start of Yom Kippur on the evening of Sept. 24.
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate