After Eleven Days in Office, President Biden Has Yet to Call Israel’s PM Netanyahu
i24 News – Newly installed US President Joe Biden has still to call Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 11 days into Biden’s term of office.
While it could represent the US administration’s priorities in attempting to get a handle on the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the president has found the time to call the leaders of Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, NATO, Russia and Japan, according to the Jerusalem Post.
There has, however, been contact between senior US officials and their Israeli counterparts; National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat was the third person in his position to get a call from his American counterpart Jake Sullivan, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on the day after his confirmation, reported the Post.
Last week, CENTCOM commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie met with the Israel Defense Forces Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi during a flying, one-day visit. It is thought that Iran featured most prominently on the list of topics discussed.
Israeli officials are particularly keen to engage with the Biden administration — including the president himself — to discuss the future of the Iran nuclear deal. Israel’s political establishment — including Netanyahu’s rivals — are united in their opposition to a return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and have sounded the alarm at Biden’s public pronouncements of favoring a return to the agreement that his then-boss, former president Barack Obama, signed.
That the new president has also stuffed his cabinet and other senior foreign policy positions with architects or proponents of the original nuclear deal is also a source of Israeli concern.
Israel’s former ambassador to the United States Dr. Michael Oren explained that Netanyahu and Biden would eventually speak and that Israel’s longest-serving prime minister would go to Washington.
He maintained that while the connection between the two leaders would almost certainly not be as close as Netanyahu enjoyed with ousted former President Donald Trump, it is unlikely to be marked by the enmity and frostiness that clouded the prime minister’s relationship with Obama.