What does an embrace from Biden mean for Netanyahu?

Opinion: In a new book published this week, author Franklin Foer describes Biden's distrust of Netanyahu who with a sense of responsibility for Israel, like his Democratic predecessors in the White House exhibited outward support despite his disdain

Naum Barnea|
"The Last Politician" is a biography of U.S. President Joe Biden that was published last week by journalist and author Franklin Foer. It concentrated on Biden's first two years as president and garnered headlines because it raised doubt of over his mental and physical fitness. Biden rarely holds meetings before 10 a.m., forgets names and struggles to appear energetic, he claims.
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The book describes the incredibly talented sharp and effective team that surrounds Biden and like in an episode of The West Wing, leads America and the world toward a better future. The Oval Office was redesigned in the image Biden chose to project, with a portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president who served until his death, hanging over the fireplace.
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נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן
נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן
Joe Biden
( Photo: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
Biden will be 81 next month. If he is re-elected, he will have to face the demands of his job until the age of 86. No president before him has reached such an age, while in office. According to polls, a majority of Americans, including voters for his Democratic Party, are convinced he is not up to the task and that his Vice President, Kamala Harris is unfit to replace him. Still, he and she insist on running for a second term.
Like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and many others holding high office, Biden is certain that his personal interests and those of his country, are one and the same. Will he choose to run to the end, or as some in his party hope, announce he is dropping out of the race? Foer says he would not be surprised either way.
The book describes Biden's approach to Netanyahu during the 2021 riots and fighting on the Gaza border. "Smother him with love," he instructed his aids. "He said he would hold the prime minister close, in a bear hug. The events of that time seem to have signaled what was to come later when the two men met on the sidelines of the UNGA last month.
During the Gaza war, they spoke six times a day and especially around the bombing of the office building in Gaza that housed foreign media offices. The dramatic footage of the building coming down caused Israel incredible PR damage in the West with allegations that Israel targeted the building so that it could show an image of victory, to its people.
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תקיפות צה"ל בעזה
תקיפות צה"ל בעזה
IDF strikes Gaza office building housing foreign media
(Photo: AP)
Netanyahu, Foer wrote, admitted there was no strategic value to bombing the building. Biden did not reprimand him. Netanyahu wanted to continue striking Gaza but Biden told him he had "run out of runway," and must stop, the book said.
Foer's description of the events places Biden in the exact spot occupied by two previous Democrat presidents, Bill Clinton and Barak Obama. Both men despised Netanyahu in and would say so in private. They both said they would settle the score with him but in public, gave him the same bear hug. It may be because of they feel a responsibility for Israel, or perhaps Netanyahu's repeated promises to change and live up to his word, in his one-on-one meetings with the American leaders, managed to impress them in some magical way.
What is ultimately the deciding factor is the American interest as it appears at the time. In their hearts, they may want to save Israeli democracy, but it is simpler and more advantageous to save Netanyahu. Biden just three years ago, called for Saud Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to be outcast, after the brutal killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and has since begun a courtship with him. In comparison, his U-turn in his relationship with Netanyahu - is a walk in the park.
Biden believes that while he is engulfed by Biden's arms in a bear hug, Netanyahu will work tirelessly to bring 20 Republican senators at the very least, to support a U.S.-Saudi defense pact and the permission to enrich uranium on Saudi soil. Perhaps he is right. What should raise some concern is the fact that immediately after he embraced Netanyahu in New York, White House officials briefed reporters that the public exhibition was not an accurate depiction of events.
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ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו פגישה עם נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן בניו יורק
ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו פגישה עם נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן בניו יורק
U.S. President Joe Biden with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(Photo: GPO)
Biden in his wisdom embraced Netanyahu with one hand and with the other, obtained the prime minister's commitment on the Palestinian front and on the legislative push to change the judicial system. But those White House briefings do not comport with Biden's next gift to Netanyahu, in Israel's acceptance into the Visa Waiver Program. When Biden offers an embrace, he does so with both his hands.
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