Though the new administration in the newly inaugurated US president has spoken with the Israeli Prime Minister, communication has been notably lacking, hinting at a challenging future for Israel.
KUWAITI REPORT: No Phone Calls
A report in Al Jarida, a Kuwaiti media, claimed that President Biden has not yet spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and actually rebuffed a calling attempt from Israel. The report was cited by journalist Yasser Okbi in a tweet on Saturday.
Barak Ravid, the Diplomatic Correspondent for Walla News, was quick to tweet out a refutation, stating that Okbi’s claim was untrue.
When challenged on this, Ravid clarified his statement, noting that, to the best of his knowledge, there was no attempt at communication by the Israeli PM that was rebuffed.
But Ravid admitted that no dialogue had taken place between Biden and Netanyahu, buthe opined that such a talk was surely imminent.
Communication Of a Sort
The claim that a lack of a phone call does not imply the two leaders have not communicated. Netanyahu congratulated Biden and Harris by tweet the day after the presidential elections on November 7 and again by video the day of their inauguration on January 20. It was also widely reported that on November 17, Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin made separate phone calls to then-President-Elect Biden. This report was corroborated by statements from both Netanyahu’s and Biden’s offices.
“The two agreed to meet soon to discuss the many issues that are pending and reaffirmed the need to continue to strengthen the strong alliance between the United States and Israel,” the Israeli statement said.
In a statement, Biden’s transition team said: “The president-elect thanked the prime minister for his congratulations and reiterated his steadfast support for Israel’s security and its future as a Jewish and democratic state.”
The report does seem to highlight the nature of the connectin between the Israeli leader and the new administration. According to media reports, in hios first week in the Oval Office, Biden had phone discussions with London, Berlin, Paris, Moscow, Canada, and the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Biden Already Working on Iran Deal
These connections imply that in the first days of his term in office, Biden was focused on relations with Europe. But additional reports claim that officials in the Biden administration have already begun holding quiet talks with Iran on a return to the 2015 nuclear deal. Though the reports also claim that Israel has been appraised of the talks, the Iran deal has always been a major concern for Netanyahu who sees the deal as an existential threat to Israel. Al Jarida reported that these contacts between the US and Iran began even before Biden took office, indicating his desire to reenter the deal which Trump rejected.