Middle East

Netanyahu not bothered that Biden hasn’t phoned him yet, envoy claims – Middle East Monitor

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not troubled that US President Joe Biden has not phoned him yet, Israel’s ambassador to Washington claimed on Saturday, seeking to downplay the lack of direct contact so far, Reuters reported.

There has been speculation that the Democratic president could be signalling displeasure over the close ties Netanyahu forged with former President Donald Trump, who called Netanyahu just two days after his inauguration in 2017.

“The prime minister is not worried about the timing of the conversation,” Ambassador Gilad Erdan told N12’s Meet The Press. He said Biden had urgent matters to contend with, such as the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout.

On Friday, the White House denied that Biden was intentionally snubbing Netanyahu by failing to include him so far in phone calls to foreign leaders since taking office on Jan. 20, saying the two leaders would speak soon.

READ: White House denies Biden is snubbing Israel’s Netanyahu

Biden has already called numerous foreign leaders, including those from China, Mexico, Britain, India, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Russia.

David Makovsky, a former US Middle East negotiator at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said on Twitter that once Biden starts phoning Middle East leaders, Netanyahu would likely be first among them.

While the right-wing Netanyahu was in lock-step with Trump over Middle East policy, he could be in for frostier relations with Biden, although Biden has long been regarded in Israel as a friend and ally in Washington.

However, Netanyahu could find the alliance tested if Washington restores US participation in the Iran nuclear deal that Trump withdrew from and opposes Israeli settlement building on illegally occupied Palestinian territory.

Israel has long opposed the nuclear deal carefully brokered by former President Barack Obama with Iran, and has made its opposition to a restoration very clear to the new Biden administration.

READ: Israel concerned about Jewish officials in Biden administration

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