President Biden congratulates Benjamin Netanyahu on election victory

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Nov. 7 (UPI) — President Joe Biden congratulated Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s former and soon-to-be Prime Minister, during a phone call Monday.

Netanyahu won the election to Prime Minister on Thursday, defeating incumbent Yair Lapid, a centrist who has served as Prime Minister since July. Lapid conceded to Netanyahu, who represented a conservative bloc Likud.

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During his call with Netanyahu, Biden commended “Israel’s free and fair elections,” according to a press release from the White House.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Israeli government on our shared interests and values,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary.

Biden also spoke to the bilateral partnership between the United States and Israel, which he has worked to strengthen since taking office in 2021. The president visited Israel over the summer as part of a four day trip to the Middle East where he met with several leaders.

Netanyahu also fielded a call from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Netanyahu pledged to “seriously examine” the situation in Ukraine once he takes office, referring to the invasion by Russia, the Times of Israel reported. Zelensky extended an offer to Netanyahu to visit Kyiv.

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Netanyahu has long held a positive relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, going so far as to say they have a friendship, but as recently as two weeks ago he called on Russia to end its war against Ukraine, according to Middle East and North African news organization The National News.

Netanyahu’s victory capped his party’s strong showing on election day, winning a 64-seat majority in the Knesset, Israel’s legislative body. Netanyahu was already one of the longest serving Prime Minister’s in the country’s history, having served for 12 years before being removed from office in 2021.

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A voter casts his ballot at a polling station in Jerusalem on November 1, 2022. Israelis are voting in their fifth general election since 2019. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo