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Israel's Netanyahu says Biden invited him to 'meet soon' in US

Netanyahu and Biden hold phone call for first time in seven months, as Israeli President Isaac Herzog travels to Washington
Then-US Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after giving joint statements in the prime minister's office on 9 March 2016.
Then-US Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after giving statements in prime minister's office, on 9 March 2016 (AFP)

US President Joe Biden has extended an invite to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "meet soon in the United States", the Israeli leader's office said in a statement on Monday.

Biden and Netanyahu spoke over the phone on Monday for the first time in seven months - since Netanyahu was sworn in as prime minister - as relations between the two governments have appeared strained over the Netanyahu coalition's judicial overhaul plans.

Netanyahu's office described the call between him and Biden as "long and warm", and further said that the Israeli prime minister accepted the invitation and it was agreed that "Israeli and American teams will coordinate the details of the meeting".

According to Netanyahu's office, the call focused on threats from Iran and the current situation in the occupied West Bank.

The White House has yet to publish a readout of the call between the two leaders.

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The vagueness of Biden's invitation made it unclear whether the US president was extending an invitation to the White House or another stage like the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The phone call also comes after Biden said in an interview with CNN that the current iteration of the government in Israel is the most extreme he has seen since he started working with Israeli prime ministers.

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During the interview, Biden also referred to some members of Israel's cabinet as "extreme", and said they were a part of the problem when it comes to the rising violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

The two more far-right members of Netanyahu's coalition, Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, have so far been snubbed by the Biden administration.

Aaron David Miller, a former State Department Middle East advisor, previously told Middle East Eye that if "Netanyahu said tomorrow the judicial overhaul is dead, the Biden administration would schedule a visit for him."

"The reason he isn't coming isn't attached specifically to the Palestinians."

The phone call also took place the day before a visit to the US by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who will hold meetings with the White House and deliver an address to a joint session of Congress.

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