Biden is determined to reset U.S. alliances and has called world leaders, but not Netanyahu, who says he has “great ties with Democrats.”
By Associated Press and World Israel News Staff
A new-old ritual is taking shape in the Biden White House, one that starts with bulky briefing packages, war-gaming the “what-ifs,” and Oval Office discussions about how to talk to this or that particular U.S. ally or adversary.
Twelve times since he took office, President Joe Biden has dialed up a world leader after reinstituting what was a long-held White House standard mothballed by Donald Trump: vigorous preparation. Gone are unnecessary digressions and over-the-top cajoling or haranguing of fellow heads of state.
The changes to telephone diplomacy have been about both style and substance as Biden has sought to send the message to foreign leaders — many embittered by Trump’s habit of berating his counterparts and conflating personal interests with U.S. national security — that Biden is determined to reset the U.S. relationship with the world.
“They’ve come cued in to the idea that they need to manage alliances really well right off the bat,” said Matthew Goodman, who served on the White House National Security Council staff during the Barack Obama and George W. Bush administrations. “It’s a central organizing principle as they look to turn the page on Trump and get alliances back on track. The preparation for calls is part of that.”
Yet over a month since Biden’s inauguration, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had a warm relationship with former president Donald Trump and his administration, has yet to receive a call from the new president.
Netanyahu nevertheless claims to have a “great friendship” with Biden. In an interview with Channel 12 on Monday, he said, “We have a great friendship of almost 40 years, since I represented Israel in Washington [as deputy chief of mission] and he was in the Senate. We agree about many things, but there are disagreements on Iran and the Palestinians.”
“I have great relations with the Democrats,” he said, despite the obvious friction that existed between him and former president Barack Obama. “I meet hundreds of members of Congress and the Senate who visit here. I checked, it’s 50-50 between the parties.”
Whether the U.S. government is headed by Democrats or Republicans isn’t an issue, he said. Rather, “It’s a matter of policy…when it comes to Iran, a matter of our very existence.”
Indeed, Netanyahu traveled to Washington in 2015 to address Congress regarding the nuclear deal with Iran, which was opposed not only by the Israeli leader but by Israelis across the political spectrum. Biden was vice president at the time and did not agree with the Israelis. He went to Guatemala to meet Central American leaders rather than attend Netanyahu’s speech.
Meanwhile, since taking office in January, Biden signaled his intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal, from which Trump withdrew in 2018, and reversed several of his predecessor’s polices with regard to the Palestinians, such as resuming financial aid to the PA – despite its financing of terror – and reopening the PLO office in Washington.