Israel PM Bennett to meet with Biden at White House with Iran nukes, Gaza at top of list

Bennett is scheduled to meet Thursday with Biden.

Updated: August 25, 2021 - 2:25pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's arrives in Washington, D.C., for his first official White House visit since taking office two months ago – with the Iran nuclear talks and tension in the Gaza strip among the most pressing issues he'll likely discuss with President Biden.

Bennett is scheduled to meet Wednesday with senior administration officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and on Thursday with Biden, according to the Associated Press

In a statement released by the prime minister's office before his departure, Bennett said a top priority would be Iran, "especially the leapfrogging in the past two to three years in the Iranian nuclear program."

The Trump administration in 2018 withdrew the U.S. from an international deal in which Iran, which borders Israel, agreed to wind down its development of a nuclear weapon, in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

Trump withdrew amid concerns Iran was not fulfilling its part of the deal. The Biden administration is looking to restart the accord. 

Bennett has spoken out against the possibility of a new accord and has said any such agreement must also put the brakes on Iran’s regional aggression. Israeli-connected shipping have been hit in recent months by attacks, believed to have been carried out by Iran. He said other issues that would also be discussed include the coronavirus pandemic and economic matters, according to the wire service

Friction between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers has been building in the three months since an 11-day war with Islamist militant group left least 265 dead in Gaza and 13 in Israel.