Israeli leader faces Biden as Mideast conflict escalates

WASHINGTON (AP) – A meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Naphtali Bennett and President Joe Biden comes amid tensions with its arch-enemy, Iran, and as Israel struggles with a renewed invasion of the southern border with the Gaza Strip.

Bennett, on his first trip abroad, was due to meet Wednesday with senior officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, as well as Thursday and Biden.

In a statement issued by the Prime Minister on his departure before leaving, Bennett said the first step in negotiating with Biden would be Iran, “especially what happened two or three years ago in Iran’s nuclear program.” He said other issues would be discussed, including Israeli military expertise, the coronavirus epidemic and economic issues.

Mr Bennett spoke out against the possibility of a new deal between Iran and international powers, and said any agreement should also stop Iran’s violence. The past few months have seen several demonstrations of annexed war in Israel, believed to have been carried out by Iran.

Earlier this week, Bennett told his cabinet that he would tell the President of the United States “that now is the time to stop the Iranian people, to stop this” re-entry “of a nuclear deal that has already expired and is not necessary, even for those who think it once was necessary. “

Clashes between Hamas officials in Israel and Gaza have been raging for three months since an 11-day war with Islamist militants left at least 265 dead in Gaza and 13 in Israel.

Direct negotiations between the two groups to implement a plan to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip were disrupted last week. Hamas has set fire to balloons in southern Israel and staged violent protests across the border, raising awareness of violence.

“There is a new government in the US and a new government in Israel, and I am bringing from Jerusalem a new spirit of unity, and this is in line with the special and long-term relationship between the two countries,” Bennett said before leaving.

Bennett took office two months ago after negotiating a ruling to control eight different parties – from Judaism to a minority Islamist group – after ousting longtime leader Benjamin Netanyahu following a fourth consecutive election in the country in two years.

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