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Biden postpones first meeting with Bennett after Afghanistan blasts

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks to reporters at his office in Jerusalem, Israel, on August 18. UPI Photo
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks to reporters at his office in Jerusalem, Israel, on August 18. UPI Photo | License Photo

Aug. 26 (UPI) -- The White House canceled what was expected to be President Joe Biden and new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's first face-to-face meeting Thursday and rescheduled it for Friday.

The schedule change came after twin explosions at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, killed dozens, including U.S. service members. Biden's planned meeting with a bipartisan group of governors on the resettlement of Afghan refugees was also postponed.

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Bennett, who succeeded longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a close election earlier this year, leads a fragile governing coalition of competing interests in Israel.

"Bennett leads one of the most diverse coalitions in Israeli history," a senior White House official told reporters.

"We think it's truly remarkable at a time when, as the president often says, we're demonstrating that democracies can deliver for their people. That's something we think his government is truly doing, and showing that people with divergent backgrounds and views can come together to solve big problems."

The two leaders could lean into multiple contentious issues, such as the United States returning to the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, which Israel opposes and Biden favors. Also, Biden favors a two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution.

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Palestinians have rioted along Israel's southern border with Gaza in recent months over restrictions related to 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas in May.

Ahead of the meeting, Israel agreed to send more goods and equipment to the Gaza Strip.

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