WASHINGTON – President Biden has maintained his public support for Israel, even though he has adopted a somewhat sharper private tone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a calculation formed by Mr. Biden’s long-standing relationship with the Israeli leader, as well as through the growing hope that Israel’s military operations against Hamas are nearing an end.
According to two people familiar with the call, Mr. Biden warned in a telephone conversation on Monday that Mr. Netanyahu that he can fend off criticism of the Gaza strikes just as long. It was said that that conversation was significantly stronger than an official summary issued by the White House. It reaffirms Israel’s right to self-defense and does not repeat the calls of many Congressional Democrats to stop immediately.
The call and others since the fight began last week reflect the complicated relationship of 40 years by Mr. Biden and mr. Netanyahu. It started when Mr. Netanyahu was the deputy head of the mission at the Israeli embassy in Washington and Mr. Biden was a young senator with a passion for foreign affairs. Since then, they have rarely seen eye to eye, but they have forged an occasional good working relationship through seven U.S. presidencies – Mr. Netanyahu was prime minister for four of them – and waged political battles over the Iran nuclear deal and Israeli settlement policy.
Today, the relationship is as complicated as ever. Mr. Biden’s juggling action on Israel, which has always been a challenge for a US president, is particularly difficult, as the Democrats are no longer firmly in Israel’s corner.
Experts in the Middle East and former US officials say that many of the calculations of Mr. Biden is rooted in a different era of American-Israeli relations – when Israel’s security problems have garnered far more attention than Palestinian grievances – and that his approach has less to do with the military situation on the ground than with domestic politics and its broader agenda. for foreign policy, including key talks with Iran.
In turn, Mr. Netanyahu for his political life at home while trying to maintain support for his country in Washington. While Mr. Biden now in the Oval Office, the men try again to maintain mutual trust amidst greater forces driving them apart.
Martin S. Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, said that Mr. Pray for him bought private space to Mr. Persuade Netanyahu to stop the strikes in Gaza, in retaliation for Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli cities. Mr. Indyk also said that Mr. Biden is trying to get the Israeli leader to agree to a ceasefire “by revealing that he is in Israel’s corner, that Israel has the right to defend itself and that he has Netanyahu’s back.”
“It was very important for the moment that has now arrived, in which he should turn to Netanyahu and say, ‘Time to finish this,'” he said. Indyk said.
Mr. Biden and mr. Netanyahu has been through many highs and lows.
After Netanyahu faced his first election defeat in 1999, Mr. Biden sent him a letter praising him for showing political courage during talks with the Palestinians hosted in the United States by the United States. Mr. Netanyahu responded and gratefully remarked that Biden was the only American politician who wrote to him after his defeat.
But in 2010, Mr. Biden, then vice president, had just begun a visit to Israel when he was blinded by the unwelcome news that the Israeli government was approving new housing in East Jerusalem, a setback for the Obama administration’s efforts to mediate Israel. Palestinian peace talks.
Officials at the Obama White House were furious, and several praised Dr. Biden encouraged a planned meal with Mr. Skip Netanyahu in Tel Aviv and leave the country immediately. Mr. Biden disagrees and prefers to confront the Israeli leader in private while reducing public disagreement, betting that such an approach would be more effective, people familiar with the episode said.
“Progress is being made in the Middle East when everyone knows that there is simply no space between the United States and Israel,” he said. Biden said while standing with Netanyahu in the prime minister’s residence. “There is no room between the United States and Israel for Israel’s security.”
During the meal, his tone was significantly more critical.
In accordance with mr. Biden’s long-standing view that foreign policy is driven by personal relationships has repeatedly made it clear over the years that his sometimes dismay with Netanyahu’s right – wing policies has never broken the men’s bond in such moments.
Mr. Biden spoke in public about how he once spoke to Mr. Netanyahu sent a photo with the caption: “Bibi, I do not agree with a damn thing you say, but I love you.”
And after tensions between Mr. Netanyahu and the Obama White House on Iran’s nuclear program erupted in public view at the end of 2014, Mr. During a speech to a Jewish American group, Biden gave the assurance that he and the Israeli leader were ‘still friends’. ”
People who are familiar with the thinking of mr. Biden, says that his perspective on Israel is much more informed than just his relationship with Mr. Netanyahu. Mr. Biden regularly recalls a visit he made as a 30-year-old senator in the fall of 1973 to Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir on the eve of an attack on Israel by a coalition of Arab states, which known as the Yom Kippur War.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict
18 May 2021, 16:35 ET
Mr Biden said he was shocked by the scale of the threat to Israel called it “One of the most important meetings I’ve ever had in my life.”
In the years that followed, Mr. Biden repeatedly stressed his commitment to the country. “I am a Zionist,” he told an Israeli television station in 2007. “You do not have to be a Jew to be a Zionist.”
Michael Oren, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Washington from 2009 to 2013, said in an Obama administration where many senior officials Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud government distrust and Mr. Excluding Oren, he serves as his main interlocutor.
“He has, I think, a good insight into the personality of Benjamin Netanyahu,” he said. Oren said. He said that Mr. Biden sees that tension between President Barack Obama and Mr. Netanyahu “causes a very flammable environment to do its best to soften.”
Mr. Oren added that Mr. Biden always held a big Rosh Hashana party in his vice presidential residence to celebrate the Jewish New Year.
Today, the president hopes that Mr. Netanyahu can help him avoid getting caught up in an Israeli-Palestinian conflict with poor prospects of solution at a time when he was focused on other foreign policy priorities, including climate change, countering China and restoring the 2015 Iran Nuclear Power Agreement.
“I think the Biden government has been caught a little off guard here,” said Sanam Vakil, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa program at London’s Chatham House think tank. “It took them a few days to mobilize and find their feet.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday that Biden “has been doing this long enough to know that the best way to end an international conflict is to typically not go public. to debate it. “
“Sometimes diplomacy has to take place behind the scenes – it has to be quiet and we do not read every component,” she said.
The conflict diverted Foreign Secretary Antony J. Blinken from a trip to the Arctic region intended to focus on one of Mr. Biden: climate change. Mr. Blinken spent most of his flight to Denmark on Sunday to discuss the matter by telephone, a senior Biden official said.
But the State Department physically sent only a middle official, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs, Hady Amr.
Some former Obama administration officials have recalled Secretary of State John Kerry calling for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Gaza conflict in 2014, which raged for two weeks after Mr. Kerry visited the region in a futile attempt to stop the fighting.
In the short term, senior officials of the Biden administration hope that an initial break in the crossfire will enable humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians who have fled or lost their homes, and will serve as a step towards’ a lasting standstill.
But such hopes have been dashed before. After his first two talks with Mr. Netanyahu last week, Mr. Biden sy “expectation and hope“That the conflict was an end. Since then, more than 100 innocents have been killed in the fighting.
On the question of why Mr. Biden did not publicly call for a ceasefire, as did dozens of congressional Democrats, a senior administration official said it could be counterproductive and prolong the violence. Some analysts agree that such calls are the challenge under Mr. Netanyahu, his political allies and the Israeli public can inspire.
Mr. Oren said he believes Biden’s public stance toward Israel, which has a growing number of congressional Democrats’ complaints, was motivated in part by indirect negotiations with Iran this month in Vienna aimed at restoring the nuclear deal. with Tehran, another of Mr. Biden’s top priorities.
“I would not be surprised if in the aftermath of this conflict the government of Biden said to the Israeli government, ‘You see how we support your right to defend yourself against Hamas? “Trust us to secure your defense when we renew the nuclear deal with Iran,” he said. Oren said.
However, it is not clear if this is a message that Mr. Pray to Mr. Netanyahu himself would not deliver. The Israeli leader is facing criminal charges, and he has struggled to form a ruling coalition that would prevent him from losing the chance for the first time since 2009.
Lara Jakes contribution made.