According to a Friday report of the left-leaning News13, citing “senior political officials,” the chances for a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Joe Biden at the White House have decreased. According to the same officials, the two leaders will probably meet in two weeks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Netanyahu was originally scheduled to address the general assembly on Thursday, September 21, but his appearance was rescheduled for Friday, September 22. It means that the PM and his entourage will have to spend Shabbat in the US, and then fly through the night to make it to Israel before Yom Kippur.
Netanyahu reportedly wanted the meeting with the president to take place in the White House, and mark an end to the administration boycott of himself and several ministers.
On Thursday, the US Embassy in Jerusalem dissed two senior Israeli government ministers, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, who were not sent invitations to the Rosh Hashanah reception. The Embassy said in a statement that the guest list “includes only those who have close working ties with the Embassy.”
And those evidently include the energy and transport ministers, but not the ministers of finance and national security.
According to Axios, Biden’s advisers are concerned that an Oval Office meeting with Netanyahu would damage Biden politically and give a political win to the Israeli PM.
Netanyahu this week has done everything short of declaring an outright moratorium on judicial reform, to gain favor in the eyes of the administration – even at the expense of the support of his base. But his call for a compromise was rejected by Benny Gantz, whose National Union Party is leading in most of the political polls. Clearly, Gantz and Biden want the same thing: to oust Netanyahu, and they do not intend to offer him any relief.
Besides a visit to the White House, Netanyahu is hoping for a big win on the Saudi peace front. But it remains to be seen whether Biden would let him have that one either. Peace with the Saudis would endow Netanyahu with sufficient prestige to last him an entire term and possibly even usher in his next electoral victory. And that won’t play well in the Arab neighborhoods of Michigan and Ohio, where Biden must win if he wants his own next term.