Photo Credit: GPO
Then US VP Biden with then PM Netanyahu in Jerusalem, 2016

The president of France has done it. The US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides has done it too. But US President Joe Biden has yet to call Israel’s Prime Minister-elect Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu to congratulate on his win in last week’s elections.

It’s a formality, we know. But the symbolism is important – and so is the message that is sent when the president of the United States holds back from making that call.


Adam Kredo, journalist for the Washington Free Beacon, noted in a report this weekend that it took Biden nearly a month to call Netanyahu when he last took office in 2021. And yet, it took Biden just two hours to call Naftali Bennett and congratulate him after he was elected prime minister.

Biden and Bibi have a complicated relationship, one that has spanned nearly four decades.

Netanyahu very publicly opposed the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, taking his views to the Congress that year in a last-ditch attempt to persuade the US to abandon the agreement.

It didn’t work, but by doing so, Netanyahu showed his Middle East neighbors that he would stand by his words – and his allies — when the chips were down. He also showed by doing so that he was willing to go up against the White House if the issue was important enough.

Joe Biden at the time was the Vice President of the United States, serving under charismatic President Barack Obama.

Even earlier, in 2010, Netanyahu went up against the Obama-Biden Administration over the issue of construction in the Israeli capital, Jerusalem.

While Biden was visiting Israel that year, the Netanyahu government announced approval of construction for new homes in the eastern part of Jerusalem. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was incensed, calling the announcement “insulting.”

But Biden and Bibi have maintained a warm friendship over the years, with each stopping by to visit the other or dropping a note periodically as the time passed.

In 2014, Biden said he once told Netanyahu, “Bibi, I don’t agree with a damn thing you say, but I love you,” CNN reported in a piece on their relationship published in February 2021.

Nevertheless, the two continue to disagree on the issue of reviving the moribund Iran nuclear deal, and on the issue of the so-called “two state solution” which would serve no one’s interests and would prove an existential threat to the Jewish State.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken immediately responded to the news of Netanyahu’s electoral win with a phone call to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, during which he “further reaffirmed [America’s] commitment to a two-state solution.”

Balancing that, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides congratulated Netanyahu and said in a tweet that he looks forward to working together to “maintain the unbreakable bond.”

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo likewise offered his congratulations, writing on Twitter, “Bibi Netanyahu’s return is a good thing for Israel, it’s a good thing for America and it’s a good thing for global stability. We should all be glad he’s back.”

So, where’s President Biden?

An unconfirmed report in Israeli media said Sunday night that Biden was “expected to call” Netanyahu on Monday to congratulate him on his victory.

Stay tuned.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.