The deadly attack at the Kabul airport has cast a shadow on what Israel hoped would be a charm offensive during Bennett's first official trip to the US.

US President Joe Biden meets with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on August 27, 2021.
US President Joe Biden meets with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on August 27, 2021. (AP)

The United States' relationship with Israel is as strong as it can be, US President Joe Biden has said as he met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the White House.

The meeting came a day after a deadly bomb attack at the Kabul airport cast a shadow on an Israeli charm offensive.

Bennett said he was bringing "a new spirit of cooperation" from Jerusalem after he took office in June, ending 12 years of Benjamin Netanyahu's leadership that was defined by polarisation and sometimes hostility toward Democrats.

However, a bombing in Kabul that killed at least 85 people including 13 US troops cast a pall over their meeting, initially scheduled for Thursday.

By Friday the meeting was back on track. A senior Israeli official said Biden moved the meeting that began in the Oval Office to the private presidential dining room, "where he is hosting the prime minister for coffee."

A broader meeting was expected to follow including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata and Israeli Ambassador to Israel Gilad Erdan, along with Bennett's senior aide Shimrit Meir.

READ MORE: Scenes of doomsday: Kabul bombings leave dozens dead, wounded

Against a Palestinian state

Bennett, 49, is on his first official visit since taking office in June as head of an eclectic coalition in which his hawkish party holds only a handful of seats.

"I bring from Israel a new spirit, a spirit of folks who sometimes harbor different opinions but work together in cooperation," he told Blinken during a meeting Wednesday.

"This is the same spirit that I want to bring to our relationship of cooperation, of goodwill, of friendship."

His positions on key issues remain at odds with the White House.

Bennett has said he will continue settlement construction and is against a Palestinian state in territories Israel occupied in 1967.

He also opposes the US reopening a consulate in Jerusalem to handle Palestinian affairs, which Trump shut in 2019 after moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Blinken hinted at their differences in a summary of their Tuesday meeting. His office wrote that "the secretary also emphasized that Israelis and Palestinians alike deserve equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and dignity."

READ MORE: Israel tacitly allows Jewish prayers inside the Al Aqsa compound

The Iran threat

In remarks to press ahead of his visit, Bennett said he planned to make Iran a focus of his visit.

Israel fiercely opposes Biden's attempt to reverse Trump's withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear deal that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Since Trump's move, Iran has itself withdrawn from key commitments, including on uranium enrichment.

Meeting with Bennett on Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin did not address the Iran deal but said he shared concerns about "Iran's alarming nuclear steps and continued regional aggression." 

READ MORE: Israel's Bennett to make case to Biden against Iran nuclear deal

Source: TRTWorld and agencies