Netanyahu and Biden: Waiting for the Israeli leader to call from the new president raises questions about US priorities

Netanyahu and Biden: Waiting for the Israeli leader to call from the new president raises questions about US priorities

While Israel remains an important ally, a source familiar with the White House’s thinking said there was some sense of retaliation in having Netanyahu wait for a call.

The source said that the Israeli leader’s gentle treatment of former President Barack Obama, his close alliances with former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, as well as the length of time he took to congratulate Biden on his victory, is not without significance.

Biden and Netanyahu last spoke on November 17, when the Israeli leader congratulated then-president-elect Biden on his victory. The call was noteworthy because Netanyahu struggled to find the right words to congratulate Biden a week earlier, and spoke of his personal relationship between the two without calling Biden the president-elect.

Even so, the White House has said publicly that the president is making contact with fellow leaders by region and will soon reach out to those in the Middle East.

Biden, who has made 11 calls to foreign leaders as well as the secretary general of NATO so far, has also deployed his own national security team to quickly reach Israel outside the gates. Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken spoke with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Defense Secretary Benny Gantz and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben Shabat. Several officials familiar with the US-Israel relations said that there are constant contacts between the two governments.

Five of the officials said the fact that Biden has not yet contacted Netanyahu is not a cause for concern, pointing to several other talks between the two governments.

A source familiar with the relationship says the lack of a phone call did not affect the dynamics of the relationship. According to the source, it is not a point of friction between countries during the ongoing talks. “This is part of normal relations and normalization,” the source said.

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“The president looks forward to talking with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He is clearly someone with whom he has a long-term relationship and clearly there is an important relationship between the United States and Israel. On the front,” White House spokeswoman Gene Psaki told reporters at a White House news conference on Thursday. Security and as a major partner in the region. ”

“He will talk to him soon,” Psaki added, but she refused to give a specific date or time to speak.

I assume he will call me. Trust me, I have no doubt about that.

And at a rare longtime Israeli leader’s news conference on Monday, Netanyahu played down the importance of the delay. “[President Biden] “He contacts the leaders in the order he deems acceptable, North America, then Europe,” Netanyahu said, adding, “He has not reached the Middle East yet. I assume he will contact me. Trust me, I have no doubt about that.”

Netanyahu went on to say that the alliance between Israel and the United States was strong, although “it does not mean that we will agree on everything.”

Meanwhile, Israel is waiting.

The country’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon He tweeted directly To Biden Wednesday, triggering a moment of resting face across parts of the Israeli political spectrum.
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“I have contacted world leaders from # Canada, # Mexico, # United Kingdom, # India, # Japan, # France, # Germany, # Australia, # South Korea, # Russia. It might be time now,” said “Joe Biden,” Danone. To contact the leader of # Israel, the closest ally of the United States, the prime minister’s number is: 972-2-670555.

Danon told Israeli Army Radio on Thursday that he “did not draft the tweet, but I take responsibility for it,” adding that “the choice of words was not successful, but I stand behind the message.”

Three officials said Danon’s tweet was largely driven by domestic Israeli politics and the long-running tension between Danon and Netanyahu. But reaction was swift, with many using Danone’s tweet to explain Biden’s silence as politically motivated.

Josh Marshall, founder of Talking Points Memo, Danone’s urging, Twitter“Glad that you see that Netanyahu made Israel a subordinate to the Republican Party has been noted and has consequences.”
While others took to Twitter to reprimand Danon for “trolling” the American president, the Israelis criticized him for “embarrassing us in front of other countries,” added a spokesman for the opposition leader, Yair Lapid. His own message On Danone’s tweet to Biden: “Sorry about this. Everyone signed up in Israel.”

Biden is the “right size”

Current and former US officials point to the decades-long close relationship between Netanyahu and Biden, and say that if any signal is sent, it is about the strategic priorities of the United States. They say Biden is “setting the right size” for the US relationship with Israel, and that with the challenges posed by China and Russia, climate change and other problems, the Middle East is not a top priority.

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Aaron David Miller, a CNN contributor who is a former Middle East peace negotiator and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, suggested that US priorities had changed rapidly in the first few weeks of the Biden administration in office.

He wrote on Twitter, “A note for all interested parties.” “A call will come. But a clear message is sent. Netanyahu was Trump’s third call. As Dorothy puts it, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

“I feel confident it’s not about Israel or about anything that happened in the Obama or Trump years,” said Daniel Shapiro, Obama’s ambassador to Israel. “It is simply about Biden’s priorities: Covid, economic recovery, climate change, and racial justice. In foreign policy, he is reinvigorating key alliances in Europe and Asia, restoring US leadership on multilateral issues, preparing for the challenge of China. And taking on the Russian challenge. Totally disciplined about these priorities. But I am sure the call will happen fairly soon. “

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The Biden administration also sent reassuring early signals to Israel on a number of fronts, and made it publicly clear that it will not back down from some of Trump’s more controversial political moves, including moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and declaring the holy city. The capital of Israel. Blinken made clear that the United States would abide by the normalization agreements brokered by the Trump administration between Israel and countries in the Gulf region and elsewhere.

But Blinken’s comments about the Golan Heights by Wolf Blitzer on CNN on Monday raised some eyebrows. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 and has administered it since then, but under international law, it is considered occupied territory. Trump broke the international consensus when he recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

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In response to a question about whether the Biden administration will continue to consider the Golan Heights as part of Israel, Blinken said: “Leaving aside the legal aspects, in practice, the Golan is extremely important to Israel’s security as long as Assad is in power in Syria, as long as Iran exists.” In Syria, the Iranian-backed militias and the Assad regime itself … over time, if the situation in Syria changes, this is something we will look at. We are not close to that.

The next day, Netanyahu said: “The Golan Heights were and will remain part of the State of Israel. With an agreement or without an agreement, we will not leave the Golan. It will remain under the sovereignty of the state. Israel.”

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