Biden has still not spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu
WASHINGTON – President Biden has still not called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu almost a month after his inauguration on Jan. 20, the White House confirmed on Tuesday.
At her daily briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked to clarify whether the new Biden government viewed Israel and Saudi Arabia as US allies.
“His first call to a leader in the region will be to Prime Minister Netanyahu,” said Psaki. “It will be soon. I don’t have a specific date for you, but it’s soon. Hold on,” she continued.
“Israel is, of course, an ally. Israel is a country where we have an important strategic security relationship and our team is fully engaged, not yet at the level of heads of state, but very soon, but our team is fully engaged and has ongoing preservations with the Israelis on many levels. “She added.
Biden’s decision not to include Netanyahu in his spate of early calls to world leaders has raised eyebrows both domestically and internationally.
Danny Danon, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, suggested that Biden pick up the phone after taking calls from leaders from 10 different nations, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Australia’s Scott Morrison.
“Could it now be time to call the leader of #Israel, the #US’s closest ally?” Danon wrote in a tweet from February 10th.
Israeli columnists have also noted the silence between the two leaders, speculating that Biden “ignores” Israel and its leader.
Former President Donald Trump and senior advisor to son-in-law Jared Kushner developed a personal relationship with Netanyahu and sought to deepen ties with Israel by moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel in Jerusalem.
Some experts have speculated that this is why Biden didn’t speak to Netanyahu.
Last month, the official Twitter account of the US Ambassador to Israel was briefly changed to “US Ambassador to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip”.
The moving speculation that the Biden administration would reverse Trump’s decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over these areas before the account was quickly converted back to its former name and the change was labeled an “unintentional change”.
The White House has tried to downplay speculation that Biden is turning away from Israel, as has Netanyahu himself.
“The Israeli-American alliance is strong, as is our almost 40-year friendship, although we may not agree on all points,” said Netanyahu during an appearance last week.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke to his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat shortly after Biden took office, according to a Hill report on Monday.
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