Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Joe Biden on his election victory on Sunday, calling the United States President-elect “a great friend of Israel”. He also expressed his gratitude to President Trump for his unwavering support of Israel.
“I look forward to working with Joe and Harris to further strengthen the special alliance between the US and Israel,” Netanyahu said in a short video clip shared on the official handle of the Israeli Prime Minister.
Netanyahu said that he and Biden had “a long and warm personal relationship for nearly 40 years, and I know you as a great friend of Israel.”
Netanyahu also thanked President Trump “for the friendship you have shown the state of Israel and me personally, for recognizing Jerusalem and the Golan, for standing up to Iran, for the historic peace accords and for bringing the American-Israeli alliance to unprecedented heights”.
Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — an agreement between Tehran and world powers loathed by Netanyahu — and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital.
He also endorsed Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights — which was seized from Syria — and avoided criticizing Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu, along with his defense and foreign ministers, had been criticized Saturday evening by opposition leader Yair Lapid for not congratulating Biden on his victory in a timely manner.
“The fact that Netanyahu, (Benny) Gantz and (Gabi) Ashkenazi have yet to congratulate the US president-elect is shameful cowardice that harms Israel’s interest,” Lapid said.
“If the president of France, the chancellor of Germany and prime minister of Britain can do so, you can too,” he wrote on Twitter.
Defence Minister Gantz and foreign minister Ashkenazi congratulated the president-elect and Harris hours later, following Biden’s victory speech on Saturday night.
According to a poll before the US election by the Israel Democracy Institute think-tank, 63 percent of Israelis wanted Trump to win a second term.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the Cabinet meeting:— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) November 8, 2020
"I would like to start with congratulations for @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. I have a long and warm personal connection with Joe Biden for nearly 40 years, and I know him as a great friend of the State of Israel. pic.twitter.com/S7UDguxWeT