Keep your friends

U.S. reassures Israel of support amid political turmoil in Jerusalem

President Joe Biden still intends to visit the country in July, even as Israel’s government lurches toward elections

MANUEL BALCE CENETA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during a news conference at the State Department, March 10, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Amid political turmoil in Israel, the Biden administration sought to reassure Israel on Tuesday that support for the U.S.-Israel relationship remains strong — and that President Joe Biden’s planned trip to the country next month will proceed as planned. 

The recent dissolution of Israel’s Knesset and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s ruling coalition set off the country’s fifth elections in three years, which could lead to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power. 

“I don’t expect political developments in Israel will have implications for what we are seeking to accomplish together with our Israeli partners, or with our Palestinian partners, for that matter,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters. “That’s because Israel is a strategic partner of the United States. It’s a fellow democracy. We respect its democratic processes.” 

Biden administration officials have praised the now-defunct coalition that was led by Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and Democratic officials still recall Netanyahu’s frosty relationship with former President Barack Obama while Biden was serving as vice president. 

“I really respect this government. It’s working,” U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said at an Atlantic Council event in May. “I was anxious and thrilled working with them in a difficult situation. I am a big fan of this government, and we hope to continue working with them.”

Biden, who is planning to visit Israel on July 13, said on Monday that his trip to the country will proceed. 

Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke with both Bennett and Lapid on Tuesday, reiterating Washington’s “unwavering commitment to the strong U.S.-Israel strategic relationship” to both of them. He also shared that Biden “looks forward to his visit to Israel next month,” according to State Department press releases.

Blinken and Lapid also discussed the visit’s implications for “the fight against Iran,” an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. 

“I’m not aware that there will be a meeting specifically focused on Iran this trip,” Price said, “but I will say it’s my strong suspicion.”