Biden and Bennett tone down US-Israel relations

Naftali Bennett, Joe Biden
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks as he meets with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, in Washington. (credit: AP Photo / Evan Vucci)
The new prime minister avoided the drama that tended to follow his predecessor’s visits to Washington.

By Mitchell Plitnick | Responsible Statecraft | Aug 30, 2021

The Palestinians are the big losers in this meeting.

When Benjamin Netanyahu met a U.S. president, there was always an air of tension. Whether it was caused by the rancorous relationship between Netanyahu and Barack Obama or the lovefest with Donald Trump that set Democrats’ teeth gnashing, there was always some discomfort on Capitol Hill.

New Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was determined to strike a very different tone in his first meeting with President Joe Biden on Friday. He aimed to mend the fences Netanyahu tore asunder between Israel and the Democratic Party, while also avoiding the appearance of acquiescence to Biden in areas where they differ on policy, most notably the Iran nuclear deal and the prospect of a Palestinian state. His success was unqualified.

For Biden, this meeting was an opportunity to nab a bipartisan policy win, a need that grew more acute after the horrific suicide bombing at the Kabul airport. He needed to re-establish the long-standing U.S.-Israel relationship while holding fast to traditional U.S. policies that had been consistent across party lines prior to the Trump era.

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