Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday urged new US President Joe Biden to “strengthen” a long-standing alliance between the two countries, partly to confront the “threat” posed by Iran.
“I look forward to working with you to further strengthen the US-Israel alliance, to continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran,” Netanyahu said.
The Israeli leader was speaking in a video congratulating Biden moments after he was sworn in as US president, replacing Donald Trump, AFP reported.
Netanyahu, who has referred to Trump as the “best friend” Israel has had in the White House, noted Wednesday that he had “a warm personal friendship going back many decades” with Biden.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said it was “not sorry” to see Trump depart, calling him “the world’s main source and sponsor of oppression, violence and extremism” and partner in “Israeli aggression” against the Palestinians.
Biden “must correct the wrong historical path of American policy which is oppressing our people,” and end policies aiming at “destroying the Palestinian cause,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
The Palestinian presidency lashed out at Netanyahu, who on Sunday announced that Israel approved 780 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, ahead of a March general election.
All Jewish settlements in the West Bank are regarded as illegal by much of the international community.
But Trump’s administration, breaking with decades of US policy, declared in late 2019 that Washington no longer considered settlements as being in breach of international law.
“Netanyahu is welcoming Biden with settlements,” said Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, on Wednesday.
“His only aim is to destroy the two-state solution.”