Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday, saying he looks forward to working with him to strengthen the U.S.- Israeli alliance.
In a video message, Netanyahu said he is eager to work with Biden to continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and “to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran."
The issue of Iran is likely to be a point of tension between Netanyahu and the new administration. Biden has indicated he would like the United States to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Under that deal signed by Iran and several other nations, including China, Russia, Britain and the European Union, Iran was to dismantle much of its nuclear program and open its facilities to extensive international inspections in exchange for billions of dollars' worth of sanctions relief.
Former president Donald Trump, a staunch ally of Netanyahu, pulled the United States out of that deal, and Netanyahu has urged Biden not to rejoin it.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman for the Gaza Strip’s Islamist rulers, Hamas, urged Biden to reverse Trump's policy changes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Biden has pledged to restore ties with the Palestinians that were cut by Trump, resume aid and reject unilateral actions, such as construction of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.