Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden Thursday for the first time since both men took office. But their talks have been delayed reportedly due to events in Afghanistan. No new time has been set, an Israeli official said in a statement.Bennett already met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. At the top of Israel’s agenda is making sure that Iran does not become a nuclear power.
Israeli media reports that Bennett’s first visit to Washington since taking office in June is off to a successful start. Among Bennett’s goals, analysts said, is to create a personal relationship with Biden. Before his meeting Wednesday with Blinken, Bennett said he hoped to help the U.S. understand Israel’s attitude toward Iran.
“I bring from Israel a new spirit, a spirit of folks who sometimes harbor different opinions but work together in cooperation and goodwill.,” he said.
Bennett says he knows the U.S. and Israel may not agree completely on the issue of Iran as a nuclear power. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned that Iran could be just two months from developing a nuclear bomb.
“And this is the same spirit that, you know, I want to bring to our relationship, of cooperation, of goodwill, friendship. We’re going to be talking about a bunch of issues primarily, how do we fend off and curtail Iran’s pursuit to dominate the region,” Bennet said.
The U.S. has been negotiating with Iran over renewing a nuclear deal that former U.S. president Donald Trump pulled out of in 2018. Israel worries that a renewed deal would pave the way for Iran to legally become a nuclear power.
Colonel Eldad Shavit, a former senior Israeli intelligence official, says an Israeli official briefed journalists on Bennett’s meetings, which came with American assurances.
“He said that Americans are not going to abandon the Middle East, and not going to abandon Israel, and of course, Americans are committed to the security of Israel. I think everything is OK, but the issue is how they are going to do it and how the different partners in the Middle East will translate the American policy and what will be the implication on their policy – Iran, Hezbollah and other partners,” Shavit said.
Israel also sought to calm the tense situation on the Gaza border between Israel and Hamas by allowing additional goods and materials to enter Gaza, and by increasing the number of workers from Gaza allowed into Israel.  
At a protest Wednesday, Hamas supporters in yellow vests tried to maintain order. Earlier this week, an Israeli soldier was critically wounded at the border, along with a 13-year-old Palestinian boy.Some information for this report came from Reuters.

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