Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is proud of the fact that he was one of the first people called by Donald Trump when he entered the White House four years ago. However, he is still waiting for a call from new US President Joe Biden.
The delay may be an indication of a new reality in Washington. What Trump gave to Netanyahu has never been given by any US president to an Israeli leader. With yet another General Election coming up next month, though, Netanyahu needs that call now.
“There are 195 countries in the world, and US President Joe Biden has not contacted 188 of them,” commented the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, “but only in Israel, people are concerned about the significance of this delay.”
Netanyahu employed a confrontational policy with the Democratic Party during the last months of Barack Obama’s presidency. Biden was his vice president at the time. More specifically, the Israeli prime minister protested when the Obama administration signed an agreement with Iran in 2015; Netanyahu also attacked Obama after the US abstained the following year rather than use its veto with UN Resolution 2334 against Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“Biden is rejecting Netanyahu’s calls,” said the leader of Israel’s left-wing opposition Meretz Party, Nitzan Horovitz, in a blog on Facebook. “Now Netanyahu is reaping the rotten fruits of the split he has created with the Democrats.”
According to Jerusalem Post analyst Herb Kinnon, though, “If Biden did not call this does not mean that he does not like us, or that he is mad at Netanyahu, or that he will rejoin the Iranian nuclear deal tomorrow or force Israel to return to the 1967 border. This simply means that Israel and the Middle East are not at the top of his list of priorities.” Biden will call sooner or later, he added. “In the meantime, the Jewish people must stop being obsessed with Israel’s position on Biden’s contact list or how much he likes or dislikes us and Netanyahu.”
Kinnon was adamant that Israel’s fate depends on the decisions it makes and the way it acts. “It is no longer dependent on the whim of one world leader or another; as a nation, it is better for us to understand this shift.”
The Post quoted White House spokeswoman Jane Psaki as saying at a White House press conference on Tuesday night that she expects Biden to contact Netanyahu in the coming weeks. “[Biden] has not contacted all the foreign leaders yet, but he would certainly like to spend more time talking to the foreign leaders.”
Amos Yadlin, the former head of Israel’s military intelligence service, Aman, told Radio 103FM a few days ago: “It is no secret that the Democratic Party has been very upset with [Netanyahu] since the congressional speech he delivered against the nuclear agreement with Iran. An unusual speech, where a foreign head of state opposes the US president in Congress.” This was in March 2015, again when Biden was part of the Obama administration.
“There was a lot of anger against the prime minister, even during the four years of Trump’s presidency, which were good years for Israeli-American relations. But the Democrats did not like that,” added Yadlin. “Even congratulating President Biden was late. The prime minister was one of the last heads of state in the world to congratulate Biden on his victory.”
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