Netanyahu opens cabinet meeting with congratulations to Biden

“I have a personal, long and warm connection with Joe Biden for nearly 40 years, and I know him to be a great friend of the State of Israel.”

Will they work together again? Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden in Jerusalem in 2016. (photo credit: DEBBIE HILL/REUTERS)
Will they work together again? Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden in Jerusalem in 2016.
(photo credit: DEBBIE HILL/REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated US President-elect Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, in his message to Sunday’s cabinet meeting, which was conducted over video conference.

“I have a personal, long and warm connection with Joe Biden for nearly 40 years,” Netanyahu said, “and I know him to be a great friend of the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu expressed certainty that he and Biden will work well together and continue to strengthen the US-Israel relationship, in the video message relayed several hours after he tweeted his congratulations.

The prime minister also thanked US President Donald Trump “for the great friendship he showed to the State of Israel and to me, personally.

“I praise him for his recognition of Jerusalem and the Golan, for his standing up to Iran, for the historic peace treaties and for bringing the alliance between Israel and the US to unprecedented heights. Thank you, President Trump,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu’s initial tweet, which was almost identical to his remarks at the cabinet meeting’s opening, came about 11 hours after a flood of congratulatory messages to Biden from world leaders, sparking criticism.
Netanyahu, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and President Reuven Rivlin had agreed to wait until after Biden’s victory speech to convey their messages.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid tweeted about two hours after those messages began to be released that “the fact that Netanyahu, Gantz and Ashkenazi still have not congratulated the elected president of the US is shameful cowardice that hurts the State of Israel’s interests. If the president of France, chancellor of Germany and the prime minister of Great Britain can do it, so can you.”

Rivlin also expressed congratulations on Sunday morning to Biden and thanked Trump for his four years of partnership with Israel.

“I send the blessings of the Israeli people and of the State of Israel, to our friend Joe Biden on your election as the 46th President of the United States of America,” wrote Rivlin.

“Mr. President-elect, as a long-standing friend of Israel, you are now the leader of the free world and of the State of Israel’s closest and most important ally,” added Rivlin. “The strategic alliance between our two countries and peoples is stronger than any political leadership, and is not based solely on friendship. It is rooted deeply in our shared values and in our long-standing commitment to freedom and democracy as the foundations of our societies.”

Rivlin thanked Trump for “four years of partnership in strengthening Israel’s security” and the American people for “their steadfast support and friendship.”

Gantz and Ashkenazi congratulated Biden soon after his speech, several hours before Netanyahu and Rivlin did.
The alternate prime minister and defense minister called Biden “a long-time supporter and friend of Israel,” and commended Harris as someone “who has made history as the first woman elected VP.”

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi tweeted early Sunday morning that it was “an honor” to congratulate Biden.
“The President-elect’s friendship and distinguished record of support for Israel dates back nearly half a century,” tweeted Ashkenazi. “I strongly believe that under his leadership the strategic indispensable alliance between our two countries will continue to flourish and prosper.”

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said after the news, “Joe Biden has been a friend of Israel since he was first elected to the Senate in 1972. I congratulate you, Mr. President-Elect, on gaining the trust of the American people. I am sure that our fruitful cooperation will continue during your time as well, including in the joint fight against COVID-19.”

Though the president and the members of the coalition congratulated Biden following his victory speech, other Israeli politicians, notably from the opposition, did so much earlier.