And Bibi finally got his meeting with President Joe Biden.
Biden and other world leaders had an agenda chock-full of issues involving social and diplomatic concerns when they gathered this week for the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.
Biden, who spent three days in New York for the gathering, sat down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday on the sidelines of the summit. It was a meeting Netanyahu had wanted, but not exactly what he had in mind.
Netanyahu had been pushing to meet with Biden at the White House since his return to power last December. But Biden, upset over Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul Israel’s judicial system and concerned about his commitment to democratic checks and balances, was reluctant to give him a high-profile Oval Office meeting.
So they met at a Manhattan hotel instead.
“We're going to discuss some of the hard issues,” Biden said.
Biden, who has known Netanyahu for years, stressed that even with their differences, the U.S. commitment to Israel is “ironclad.”
“Without Israel,” he said, “there's not a Jew in the world who is secure. Israel is essential.”
Netanyahu said one thing will never change: Israel’s commitment to democracy.
“We will continue to uphold the values that both our proud democracies cherish,” he said.
The meeting ended but not before Biden invited Netanyahu to visit Washington by year's end.
Here are three other takeaways from the U.N. summit:
Biden, Zelenskyy warn of 'aggression'
Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy both addressed the members of the general assembly on Tuesday and warned of the consequences of pulling back on support from Ukraine in its war with Russia.
In his annual address to the body, Biden cast solidarity with Ukraine as a necessary step to deter other would-be aggressors. Russia believes the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence, he said. If U.N. member nations abandon their core principles and appease an antagonist, no one will be safe, Biden said.
“If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?” Biden asked. “I respectfully suggest the answer is no.”
Biden’s stark message seemed to be directed at Washington as much as those world leaders in the audience. As American support for the war in Ukraine has softened, some congressional Republicans are resisting his request for $24 billion in military and humanitarian aid for the war-torn country.
A few hours after Biden spoke, Zelenskyy echoed his remarks, warning in his address to the body that Russia’s aggression won’t stop with Ukraine and that its invasion of his country is pushing the world toward a “final war.”
"Many seats in the General Assembly hall may become empty – empty if Russia succeeds with its treachery and aggression," Zelenskyy said.
Who wasn’t there for either speech? Russian President Vladimir Putin, who skipped the U.N. gathering.
Iran leader slams US, other 'old powers'
Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s hardline president, attacked the United States for pulling out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2018 and accused America of imposing sanctions as a political tool.
His remarks came the same day five Americans who had been imprisoned in Iran returned home as part of a prisoner exchange the Biden administration negotiated with Tehran.
Raisi told journalists the exchange could help build trust between the nations. But he didn’t hold back in his address to the General Assembly.
Raisi said through an interpreter that U.S. sanctions on Iran haven’t worked and “old powers will keep their current downward trajectory.”
“They represent the past,” he said, “and we are the future.”
As Raisi spoke to the General Assembly, Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Gilad Erdan, walked around the room holding up a banner with a photo of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian woman who died last year while in police custody after allegedly violating the Islamic Republic's strict dress code for women. Erdan later walked out of the assembly hall with other Israeli diplomats.
Americans are freed from Iran: So, why is the prisoner swap controversial for Biden?
Biden on Bette Midler, Trump and 2024
In between his meetings with world leaders, Biden also carved out some time for fundraisers for his reelection campaign.
New York’s Times Square, a hectic zoo of humanity even without a presidential invasion, grew even more chaotic and congested as Biden’s motorcade zipped across West 46th Street to Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Monday night for one of the campaign events.
“Broadway for Biden,” announced a red, white and blue marquee outside the theater. Inside, Biden took the stage as an orchestra played “All That Jazz.”
Years ago, Biden said, when his sons Beau and Hunter were younger, he took them to a Midler show on Broadway. The bawdy performer spotted the boys in the crowd and asked who on earth would take kids to a show like this, Biden recalled.
On Trump, Biden said the former president, who is also the GOP front-runner for 2024, and MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy democracy. “I’m running because democracy is at stake because democracy is on the ballot once again,” he said.
If voters send him back to the White House, Biden said, "we will have saved democracy."
Michael Collins and Maureen Groppe cover the White House. Follow Collins on X, formerly Twitter, @mcollinsNEWS and Groppe @mgroppe.
Contributing: Francesca Chambers
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Takeaways from Biden's UN speech, meeting with Bibi Netanyahu at UNGA