FACT-CHECK: Netanyahu on a White House Invitation (updated in September)

FACT-CHECK: Netanyahu on a White House Invitation (updated in September)

After PM Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden spoke by telephone on July 17, Netanyahu's office issued a statement saying that he had been invited to the White House. On July 18, Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi told Channel 12, that contradictory to reports appearing in the Israeli press, "The President of the United States... is inviting him to the White House in Washington for a meeting in September." According to Times of Israel reports, Netanyahu's office reached out to Israeli Hebrew media to confirm that this invitation had been tendered.

PM Netanyahu doubled down on the putative invitation, telling ABC News (July 27) that US President Joe Biden had invited Netanyahu to the White House for a meeting. "President Biden in the last conversation we had invited me to the White House in the fall – I think it's in September but we'll finalize the date," Netanyahu said.

He told NBC News the same about the White House invitation in early August.


In March, US President Joe Biden had told reporters, "The Israeli government can't continue down this road (with judicial overhaul)" and stressed that he was not going to invite Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House "in the near term."

After the July 17 phonecall between Biden and Netanyahu, the White House made no mention of an invitation.

In response to a Reuters query about Hanegbi's remarks on the White House invitation, a White House official said the two leaders had only agreed on a meeting, not where to meet, Reuters reported.

The New York Times, on July 17, confirmed that, "White House officials declined to say whether Mr. Netanyahu would be invited to the White House, which would be the usual practice for a close ally, or only to meet with Mr. Biden on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, which meets later in the fall. No date was set for the visit."

On August 9, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, answering a reporter's question, clarified: "We still anticipate that the president will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu sometime in the latter part of this year in the fall, and it'll be somewhere in the United States."

White House officials continue to clarify on the record that the leaders have agreed to a meeting, but the time and location have not been set, and a White House invitation was never proffered.

August, edited to add: On August 29, it was announced that Opposition leader Yair Lapid will be heading to DC to meet top White House and State Department principals.

No word forthcoming on PM Netanyahu's White House invitation.

September, edited to add: PM Netanyahu won't be invited to the White House as part of his September 17 trip to the United Nations. US officials reportedly told Netanyahu that there will be a meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Netanyahu was told he will be invited to DC "later this year" after the White House determines how the judicial overhaul unfolds, according to a senior US official. Netanyahu and his Coalition partners are still refusing to state whether they will abide by a Supreme Court ruling, making the White House uncomfortable with an invitation at this time. US officials also shared that a White House meeting would convey an impression of business as usual, while the President is still unhappy with the overhaul; and that there was concern that a White House invitation would prompt protests by thousands of American Jews and Israelis outside the White House. Protests are expected outside the UN General Assembly during Netanyahu's visit, according to officials.

Update: US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby refused to confirm a Biden-Netanyahu meeting on the sidelines of the UN. "I have no meetings to speak to at this point," Kirby said. Not only won't PM Netanyahu be going to the White House, at this point, it's unclear if he will be meeting President Biden at all.