After Drawn Out Radio Silence, Netanyahu Congratulates Biden on Victory

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After hours of silence, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin issued statements early Sunday morning congratulating Joe Biden on a presumed victory in the 2020 presidential elections.

“Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. Joe, we’ve had a long & warm personal relationship for nearly 40 years, and I know you as a great friend of Israel,” Netanyahu wrote on his personal Twitter account at 7 a.m. in Israel, which was midnight EST.

“I look forward to working with both of you to further strengthen the special alliance between the US and Israel.”

Minutes later, Netanyahu posted a second tweet thanking President Donald Trump “for the friendship you have shown the state of Israel and me personally, for recognizing Jerusalem and the Golan, for standing up to Iran, for the historic peace accords and for bringing the American-Israeli alliance to unprecedented heights.”

His office has yet to issue a formal statement. Netanyahu came under fire for waiting longer than other world leaders and Israeli lawmakers in responding to Biden’s win.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said: “Joe Biden has been a friend of Israel since he was first elected to the Senate in 1972. I congratulate you, Mr. President-Elect, on gaining the trust of the American people. I am sure that our fruitful cooperation will continue during your time as well, including in the joint fight against COVID-19.”

The Hebrew-language Walla news site on Saturday evening cited unnamed sources close to Netanyahu as saying that he was “waiting for the official results” before issuing a statement.

The report also said that Netanyahu’s office had dictated media responses to ministers of his Likud party, namely, to say that Israel can work well with Biden just as it worked with Trump and to express hope that the apparent president-elect will continue in the same path as his predecessor and work on more normalization deals between Israel and the Arab world, as well as standing up to Iran, and that he won’t overturn Trump’s pro-Israel policies, such as recognizing Israeli sovereignty.

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