President Joe Biden on Monday invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the U.S. for the first time since the Israeli leader came back to power last year.
The invite, which was extended over the phone, comes after several cancellations and a long delay.
Tensions between Biden and Netanyahu have peaked following months of disagreements over a judicial overhaul undertaken by the Israeli leader’s right-wing government, which has spurred violent anti-government protests. The U.S. has also criticized the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
We’ve curated insights from experts on Netanyahu’s “long-sought” meeting with Biden.
- ”A long-sought meeting with Biden may not give Netanyahu nearly the political boost or the victory lap he so desires,” Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment wrote a day before Biden’s invite. Especially considering that some of his European visits intended to rally support against Iran, including those to France and Germany, “haven’t gone all that well” given concerns about Israel’s democratic backsliding and the controversial judicial reform plan, Miller noted. “And much of the same awaits him in Washington, especially from the Jewish community”. — Foreign Policy
- In Israel, one analyst believes that the invitation is “ill-timed, if not off-message.” Despite Biden’s recent criticism of Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul plans as well as his “extreme” right-wing coalition, the U.S. president chose to extend an invite to Netanyahu shortly before anti-government protesters in Israel were set to hold a “day of resistance.” Biden’s decision potentially undermines those protesters who the U.S. government has “hailed as exemplifying the strength of Israel’s democracy.” — The Times of Israel
John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, said that the two leaders will “probably” meet before the end of the year but details on when and where are still being determined. Some reports say that Biden and Netanyahu may meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this September.
Israel, in Washington’s view, has long been regarded as the least extremist country in the Middle East and has received the largest amount of military aid from the U.S. since the country’s formation in 1948.
But Biden has expressed that Netanyahu’s right-wing government is the most “extreme” in Israeli history. Kirby affirmed that Biden still stands by his claims and that concerns about the direction that the country is heading in are still “valid” and “disturbing”.