Israel’s Netanyahu Yet To Be Received At The White House
Eleven weeks into his third stint as Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to be received at the White House, signaling apparent U.S. unhappiness over the policies of his right-wing government.
Most new Israeli leaders had visited the United States or met the president by this point in their premierships, according to a Reuters review of official visits going back to the late 1970s. Only two out of 13 previous prime ministers heading a new government waited longer.
The White House declined to confirm Netanyahu has yet to be invited. A State Department spokesperson referred Reuters to the Israeli government for information about the prime minister’s travel plans.
Israel’s embassy in Washington declined to comment.
“The message they clearly want to send is: If you pursue objectionable policies, there’s no entitlement to the Oval Office sit-down,” said David Makovsky, a former senior adviser to the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Since the start of the year, demonstrators have filled Israel’s streets to protest the government’s plan to curb the power of the Supreme Court, which critics say removes a check on the governing coalition.
Escalating West Bank Violence
Amid escalating West Bank violence, the right-wing government’s action autorizing settler ‘outposts and inflammatory’ comments from a member of Netanyahu’s cabinet with responsibilities over Jewish settlements have drawn criticism from U.S. officials, including from Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin during a visit to Israel last week.
“U.S.-Israeli ties remain close.” The United States has long been Israel’s main benefactor, sending more than $3 billion each year in military assistance.
President Joe Biden has known Netanyahu for decades, the two have spoken by phone, and senior officials in both countries have made visits since Netanyahu’s government was formed in December, despite Israel’s spiraling political crisis.
But the lack of a White House visit underscores both the desire of the Biden administration to see different policies in Israel and what critics say is a reluctance to take more forceful steps.