CIA chief Burns brings a more polite tone in Israel visit

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PM Naftali Bennett’s meeting with director of the CIA. (photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO)
These meetings reflect Bennett’s desire to appear more reasonable than Netanyahu, but don’t expect any substantive changes.

By Mitchell Plitnick | Responsible Statecraft  | Aug 16, 2021

Burns’ deep knowledge of policy and his expertise in diplomacy, earned over nearly four decades in the Foreign Service, means he has the president’s ear on policy decisions in a way most other CIA directors haven’t.

In the coming weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is expected to visit the White House for his first meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden. The new administrations in both countries have been working to reset the relationship between them in the wake of their personality-driven predecessors. The visit this week of Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns was a key moment in that process.

Burns brings an unusual perspective to intelligence. A career diplomat who reached the highest ranks of the State Department before taking this position, Burns comes to an allied country to discuss policy as much as intelligence and security, more so than many of his predecessors. His selection was part of Biden’s effort to reinvigorate U.S. diplomacy after it had been crippled during the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Burns’ deep knowledge of policy and his expertise in diplomacy, earned over nearly four decades in the Foreign Service, means he has the president’s ear on policy decisions in a way most other CIA directors haven’t. And the policy questions Biden will grapple with regarding Israel are profound, in both the long and short term.

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