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Biden Invites Israel's Netanyahu to White House

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, waves to the media as he arrives to the cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, July 17, 2023.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington for an official visit at a date to be determined, the prime minister's office said.

The invitation was extended during a phone call between Biden and Netanyahu, a day ahead of a visit to Washington by Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

Netanyahu returned to power more than six months ago, but Biden had pointedly declined to issue an invitation until long after most Israeli prime ministers would have made the visit.

Amid escalating West Bank violence, the right-wing Israeli government's actions authorizing settler outposts and inflammatory comments from a member of Netanyahu's cabinet with responsibilities over Jewish settlements had drawn criticism from U.S. officials, including from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during a visit to Israel in March.

Netanyahu told Biden he would try to form "broad public consensus" on legislation in Israel that would strip its highest court of much of its powers, the statement said. The legislation has prompted anti-government protests in Israel for months.

The two leaders shared a "long and warm" conversation, the Israeli statement said, focused on curbing threats from Iran and its proxies and strengthening the alliance between the two countries.

The White House was expected to issue a statement later on the U.S. view of the phone call.