Some 60 days have passed since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power for his sixth term in office, but the traditional invitation to the White House has yet to be announced.
Even though President Joe Biden holds Netanyahu in high regard, having known him for forty years, the White House has been in no hurry when it comes to calling the Prime Minister’s Office, very similar to the situation just after Netanyahu officially won the Nov. 1 election, when the administration waited for a long time before congratulating him. The past has taught us that usually, a prime minister gets such invitations extended only when there are critical issues at hand: from peace initiatives and trade deals to the Iranian nuclear threat.
“I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
This time, it feels that there is another thing at play as well: a palpable sense that the White House staff view large parts of Netanyahu’s sixth cabinet with scorn. The diplomatic meetings held so far between the government and the White House have been through non-traditional channels. The head of Israel’s National Security Council Tzachi Hanegbi and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer went to Washington to engage on the nuclear threat from Iran. Later, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met his US counterpart.
All the while, Netanyahu and the government are under the watchful eye of the US government when it comes to its policies with the Palestinians and the judicial reforms. Only several years Netanyahu enjoyed a honeymoon in his relations with Donald Trump, being invited to the Oval Office for a succession of visits one after another. He was there just a month after Trump was sworn in; he arrived for the publication of the president’s peace and his official signing of the declaration recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and of course, the crown jewel was the signing of the Abraham Accords.
Since Biden has come into power, he has only hosted one Israeli prime minister: Naftali Bennett, in August 2021, some 80 days after his swearing-in. After Yair Lapid became prime minister in the summer, he got to meet Biden when the latter arrived in Israel, during which Biden also briefly shook hands with then-Opposition leader Netanyahu. But Lapid did not get an official photo-op in the White House.
Israel Hayom HERE