US elections

Israeli PM Netanyahu congratulates ‘great friend of Israel’ Joe Biden, thanks Trump

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Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Joe Biden for winning the US presidential election on Sunday, while also thanking predecessor Donald Trump.

“Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. Joe, we’ve had a long & warm personal relationship for nearly 40 years, and I know you as a great friend of Israel. I look forward to working with both of you to further strengthen the special alliance between the U.S. and Israel.

Netanyahu also thanked Trump, his close personal and political ally, in a follow up tweet.

“Thank you @realDonaldTrump 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.”

Netanyahu's close relationship with Trump has led some to speculate that he may struggle to build a similar rapport with a Biden administration in the White House.

Netanyahu had a notoriously difficult relationship with President Barack Obama, during which time Biden was vice-president.

Biden has pledged to reengage with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal - fiercely opposed by Netanyahu - and is considered to be more likely to criticize Israel's settlement policy in the West Bank than Trump.

Read more: Incoming US President Biden may differ with Israel’s Netanyahu on Iran, settlements

Israeli, Palestinian reactions to Biden

While Netanyahu's response to the election result came almost a day after many Arab leaders congrulated Biden, several Israeli ministers did tweet their support immediately.

Israeli Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn - a member of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition belonging to the centrist Blue and White party - swiftly congratulated Biden.

“Congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden! Congratulations to Kamala Harris, the first woman to serve as vice president and congratulations to the American people on the proper democratic process,” Nissenkorn said on Twitter.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid also offered his congratulations to the Democrat on Twitter.

“The relationship between our countries is based on deeply held values and critical shared interests which I know will be at the heart of your administration,” Lapid wrote.

Like Netanyahu, Palestinian National Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas also did not comment immediately on the election.

Abbas' government cut off ties with the Trump administration following the US decision to move its embassy to the disputed city of Jerusalem.

Other Palestinians expressed mixed feelings at Biden's election.

“We don't expect miraculous transformation, but at least we expect the dangerous destructive policies of Trump to totally stop,” Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran negotiator and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, told Reuters.

“It is time to change course,” she added. “They should change course and deal with the Palestinian question on the bases of legality, equality and justice and not on the basis of responding to special interests of pro-Israeli lobbies or whatever.”

Read more: Palestinians welcome Trump exit, but are cautious about newly elected Biden

With Reuters.

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