Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Joe Biden on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016. (File photo: AP)

Israel's Netanyahu says US President Biden not willfully excluding him: 'He'll call'

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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged on Monday his differences with US President Joe Biden, specifically over Iran and Palestine, but stressed the two enjoyed a "very strong" working relationship.

Biden has yet to call Netanyahu since taking office and the White House said on Friday it was "not an intentional diss" and that they would speak soon.

"Obviously, we have a long and important relationship with Israel, and the President has known him and has been working on a range of issues that there’s a mutual commitment to for some time. It is just a reflection of the fact that we have been here for three and a half weeks, he’s not called every single global leader yet, and he is eager to do that in the weeks ahead," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

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Netanyahu told Israel's Channel 12 in an interview on Monday: "He [Biden] will call."

"We’ve had friendly relations for almost 40 years, dating from the time I came to Washington as an Israeli diplomatic representative and he was a young senator from Delaware... We know each other. We agree on a lot… There are differences: on Iran and the Palestinian issue as well," he added.

There has been speculation that the Democratic president could be signaling displeasure over the close ties Netanyahu forged with former President Donald Trump, who called Netanyahu two days after his inauguration in 2017.

While the right-wing Netanyahu was in lock-step with Trump over Middle East policy, he could be in for frostier relations with Biden, although Biden has long been regarded in Israel as a friend in Washington.

Netanyahu may find the alliance tested if Washington restores US participation in the Iran nuclear deal that Trump withdrew from and opposes Israeli settlement building on occupied land where Palestinians seek statehood.

- With Reuters

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