But three weeks into his tenure, while Biden worked deeply at Rolodex for world leaders without contacting Netanyahu’s office on Balfour Street, much of the Israeli political class is willing to declare total diplomatic disdain. In the president’s “resounding silence”, some see a tepid stumbling block I have long feared Netanyahu’s warm hug with Trump.
Security analyst Yossi Melman wrote in the daily, “Biden and his aides aim to tell Netanyahu: ‘You are not special.” Haaretz. “The personal relationship and the chemistry you had with Donald Trump not only fails to cement your standing in Washington, it is an obstacle as well.”
Officials in both capitals rejected the notion that Biden’s call record contained any coded reprimand to Israel or its prime minister. The White House says Biden is communicating with every region and the Middle East is emerging.
The president’s first calls, to Mexico and Canada, and to European and Asian capitals, dealt with issues including migration, trade, climate change, NATO and the containment of China, according to reports. The White House is also depleted by the raging epidemic and the economic crisis.
“There is no reason for any drama,” said Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel under Obama, who expects Netanyahu’s phone to ring soon. “Biden took office at a time of national emergency that no president has faced since Roosevelt. His calls reflect those priorities.”
Netanyahu himself played down the likelihood that he would be intimidated by the new president. The prime minister indicated that he and Biden have known each other for decades and that he called Biden shortly after he was declared the winner of the election in November.
Netanyahu said when questioned about Biden during his appearance with the Greek Prime Minister in Jerusalem this week: “He is making calls to world leaders in the order that he deems appropriate.” “The Israeli-American alliance is strong, and so is our friendship for nearly 40 years, although we may not agree on everything.”
But Netanyahu built his image as a political giant in part by promoting quick-contact relationships with leaders around the world, and in Washington in particular. In three previous elections, he boasted that he had led a hotline soon to Trump via then-US ambassador David Friedman, the former president’s bankruptcy attorney.
The Trump White House appeared ready to help. Several major concessions to Netanyahu, such as support for annexation of the Golan Heights, were announced shortly before Israeli voters went to the polls.
“There is no doubt that he is not happy with this,” said Aviv Bushinsky, Netanyahu’s chief of staff and former media advisor. “I think Netanyahu will view this as disrespectful.”
The US embassy in Jerusalem declined to comment. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The no-phone conversation came to fruition on Wednesday when Israel’s former UN envoy, Danny Danon, tweeted a list of country leaders that Biden had already contacted and attached a number to the prime minister’s office (a number that was dismissed, as it turns out). Is it now time to contact the leader of Israel, the closest ally of the United States? Asked.
Those years were fraught with sniping on Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including the announcement of major settlement expansion in the midst of Vice President Biden’s visit. The tension culminated when Obama chose not to veto an anti-settlement resolution in the United Nations Security Council at the end of his term.
Concerns only increased as the new president held several senior diplomatic and security posts with Obama alumni and Biden promised to resume nuclear negotiations with Iran, another point of contention from the previous era.
“It’s starting to sound like that old music again,” said Pushinsky.
While the two sides said a long, personal relationship between two leaders who call each other “my old friend” would ease tensions, the growing inconsistencies around the first phone call underscored concerns that Israel has already declined in importance.
Bushinsky pointed out that the Israelis fully agree with the status accorded to their leaders in the United States, the most important international partner of Israel. In non-pandemic times, the public here will wait for the prime minister’s first visit to Washington and discuss the details of the protocol.
Did they fire the cannons? Did he stay at the Blair House? ”Bushinsky said,“ The Israelis care about this stuff. ”Now he can’t go there, but even a phone call? It is an issue. “