By COLlive reporter
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is on his first diplomatic visit to Washington, DC at the invitation of US President Joe Biden whom he will meet at the White House on Thursday.
“There is a new administration in the US and a new government in Israel, and I am bringing with me from Jerusalem a new spirit of cooperation, which rests on the special and long-standing relationship between the two countries,” he commented.
“We will deal with many fronts, especially the Iranian front, and especially the leap in the Iranian nuclear program over the past two or three years. In particular, we will discuss the plan to block this program.
“We will also deal with several actions to strengthen the Israeli military superiority. Alongside this, we will also deal with the spheres of high-tech, the economy, innovation, the climate crisis that disturbs us all and – of course – the fight against the coronavirus.
“I intend to share with President Biden the knowledge and insights we have accumulated in the campaign here – in the State of Israel – regarding the third dose of the vaccine, which I am pleased has already crossed the threshold of 1.5 million people who have been inoculated,” he said.
Bennett and his entourage are staying at the InterContinental the Willard hotel. On Wednesday morning, Bennett was photographed davening Shachris with Tallis and Tefillin. He is the country’s first kippah-wearing Orthodox Jewish prime minister.
Bennett, who took on the position to dethrone longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu despite prior promises, has little public supports in recent polls in Israel. His Yemina party only has 7 seats in the Knesset of 120 members.
“You don’t have to like Bennett,” noted Michael Shemesh, a commentator on Kahn media. “The fact that the Prime Minister of Israel wraps a tallis and puts on Tefillin in Washington during an official visit… contributes a little to the feeling of Jewish pride.”
Knesset member Vladimir Beliak of the Yesh Atid party tweeted: “I am a secular person, but the photo of the Prime Minister of Israel putting on Tefillin on his visit to the United States moves me as a Jew and as a citizen of Israel. Good luck Mr. Prime Minister.”
Later in the day, Bennet met with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Howard Kohr, CEO of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC to discuss the national challenges facing Israel in the diplomatic, security and economic spheres.
He was accompanied by National Security Council head Dr. Eyal Hulata, the Prime Minister’s Military Secretary, Maj.-Gen. Avi Gil, Israeli Ambassador to the US and the UN Gilad Erdan, Cabinet Secretary Shalom Shlomo, the head of the Prime Minister’s staff, Tal Gan-Tzvi, and diplomatic adviser Shimrit Meir.
On Thursday, Biden will be hosting Bennett. “President Biden and Prime Minister Bennett will address critical issues related to regional and global security, including Iran,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
i24NEWS anchor Calev Ben David discusses the visit
Insight from Former Israeli Ambassador to France & Italy, Avi Pazner