WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden plans to speak with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu soon, the White House said on Thursday without providing a date. Biden’s failure to include Netanyahu in his calls with foreign leaders so far has surprised Israel and among Middle East experts. Former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump spoke with him just days after taking office. “The president hopes to speak with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Obviously, he is someone with whom he has a long-term relationship,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a news conference. Having stood by Trump’s side for four years, Netanyahu is likely to be challenged by any deviation by Biden from Trump’s tough policy toward Iran and toward the Palestinians. Biden has vowed to restore US involvement in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, from which Trump had withdrawn, and likely White House opposition to the Israeli settlement of occupied lands where Palestinians seek statehood. Trump delighted Netanyahu by waiving the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposing sanctions that had been lifted in exchange for limits on activities that could potentially produce nuclear weapons in the future. “Obviously there is an important relationship that the United States has with Israel on the security front and as a key partner in the region,” Psaki said. “She will speak to him soon, I don’t have a specific date or time for that call yet.”
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