In the three weeks since taking office, President Joe Biden has called the leaders of several key allies around the world — except, conspicuously, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leading to speculation the frosty start is a sign of things to come for Israel-U.S. ties.
Donald Trump, by contrast, called Netanyahu within two days of becoming president.
“It’s a clear sign of displeasure from President Biden with the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu was perceived in Washington for the last 12 years as almost a card-carrying member of the Republican Party,” said Dani Dayan, a former Israel consul-general in New York who has joined New Hope, a political party headed by Netanyahu rival Gideon Sa’ar.
“I hope it’s a symbolic thing to show their displeasure that will not have serious political consequences in the decision-making process,” Dayan was quoted as saying by the Times of Israel.
Former Israeli ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon noted Biden has called leaders from Canada, Mexico, India, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Russia.
“Might it now be time to call the leader of Israel, the closest ally of the U.S.?” Danon wrote on Twitter and included a phone number for Netanyahu’s office.
@POTUS Joe Biden, you have called world leaders from#Canada#Mexico#UK#India#France#Germany#Japan#Australia#SouthKorea#Russia
Might it now be time to call the leader of #Israel, the closest ally of the #US?
The PM's number is: 972-2-6705555 pic.twitter.com/OYgPvVga6F
— Ambassador Danny Danon | דני דנון (@dannydanon) February 10, 2021
Netanyahu dismissed the snub, saying the American president “is making calls to world leaders according to the order he sees fit.”
“The Israel-U.S. alliance is strong and so is our friendship of almost 40 years, though we may not agree on everything,” he said, adding he is sure Biden would call him when he begins calling leaders in the Middle East.
Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro also shrugged it off, saying: “That Biden hasn’t called Netanyahu doesn’t mean Israel is not important. I assume the call will come next week.”
Middle East analyst Aaron David Miller, tweeted: “A call will come. But a clear message is being sent. Netanyahu was Trump’s 3rd call. To quote Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Danielle Pletka from the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute called the lack of contact “bizarre, inappropriate, immature.”
“It’s unclear why President Biden would wish to signal to all of Israel’s enemies that the United States doesn’t stand with our most important ally in the Middle East,” she said.