Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address the high-level opening session of the 78th United Nations General Assembly on September 21, Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said Wednesday. He expressed hope that a meeting would soon be in the offing with President Joe Biden.
“I believe there are good reasons to think that it might happen around [the time of the] UNGA” opening, Erdan told The Jerusalem Post.
No date has been set for a meeting between Netanyahu and Biden, who is slated to speak to the UNGA on September 19.
Why has Netanyahu not yet met with Biden?
Biden, who has known Netanyahu for at least four decades and considers him a friend, has not invited the prime minister to the White House since he took office at the end of December 2022.
US presidents have typically invited newly or reelected prime ministers to the White House in the immediate aftermath of their election to discuss joint issues and policies.
Tensions between Washington and Jerusalem on issues relating to Netanyahu’s judicial reform plan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and extremist statements by some of his ministers have prevented an invitation.
Biden was blunt about that, saying in March that Netanyahu would not be invited in the near term.
In July, Biden spoke with Netanyahu by phone, and the two men agreed to meet. Netanyahu said Biden had invited him to the White House during that conversation.
The White House repeatedly refused to confirm an Oval Office meeting, saying that no location had been set for the meeting, which would occur in the US.
Netanyahu has banned Likud ministers from visiting Washington until he meets with Biden. The ban exempts Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer (Likud), who has met in Washington with US officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (Likud) was in New York this week to urge the UN Security Council to empower UNIFIL to fully monitor Hezbollah’s military activity along Israel’s northern border.
With an eye to Netanyahu’s ban, Gallant’s trip did not include a Washington leg. He met instead in New York with White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid, who is not bound by Netanyahu’s dictate, is set to travel to Washington next week to meet with US officials and politicians.
Although Netanyahu has not traveled to the US since taking office, he has received a wide array of US officials and leading politicians in Jerusalem.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu met with Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana) and discussed ways to maintain the special relationship between the two countries. On Monday, he hosted Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) in his office.
Netanyahu is also expected to meet other heads of state at the UN in New York, but his office has not issued an itinerary or even confirmed the dates of the trip.
High-level speakers from most of the UN’s 193 member states, as well as nonmember states, are expected to speak, including from the Palestinian Authority.
Netanyahu’s delegation would also include Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (Likud), as well as the health and environmental protection ministers, Erdan said, adding that it will be one of the more well-attended UN General Assembly opening sessions.
“There will be a marathon of meetings” by the Israeli delegation with leaders from all over the world, he told Army Radio.