Bennett’s office downplays report; Biden administration tacitly acknowledges its accuracy.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
President Joe Biden has not responded to requests from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for a phone call, as a punitive measure meant to signal Washington’s “frustration” with settlement building in Judea and Samaria, according to a new report from Hebrew language Channel 13.
The station reported that Bennett had reached out to the Biden administration three weeks ago to discuss the Iranian nuclear threat and the next steps to be taken as talks in Vienna stall. Iran appears to be closer than ever to maintaining a nuclear weapon.
The Biden administration has completely ignored the request, Channel 13 reported, because of Bennett’s refusal to agree to a settlement freeze in Judea and Samaria during a recent conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Bennett’s office downplayed the report, saying that it had not formally reached out to the Biden administration nor asked for a phone call.
Notably, the White House did not deny that it had brushed off Bennett’s phone call requests when asked for comment by Hebrew media.
A spokesman for the State Department said that National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who touched down in Tel Aviv for talks with Bennett and senior Israeli security officials on Tuesday, is responsible for handling the Iranian issue.
The statement implied that Sullivan’s visit to the Jewish State was arranged in response to Bennett’s requests for a phone call.
Following several days of meetings with Israeli officials, Sullivan is expected to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
After taking office in January 2021, Biden waited nearly a month before calling then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu — a choice that was widely interpreted as a snub to Israel and a marked shift in U.S. policy towards Jerusalem after the staunchly pro-Israel Trump years.
Biden phoned Bennett just two hours after the latter was inaugurated in June 2021. The two leaders met at the White House in August 2021.