Netanyahu wants a White House visit; Biden will set the agenda

In order to score a White House invite, the prime minister will have to make many concessions; But US President Joe Biden will not be satisfied with just promises, he will demand a timetable for implementation

Orly Azoulay|
In the American diplomatic lexicon, the phrase "let's meet in the fall" is similar in meaning to saying: "let's go to lunch sometime." These expressions point to the good manners of the powerful speaker, but also to its great hypocrisy. In both cases there is no intention to follow up what was said.
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A message was delivered to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a long time ago that US President Joe Biden, who made him sweat in his efforts to get to a photo op at the White House, intends to meet with him in the fall.
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ביבי בנימין נתניהו ארכיון
ביבי בנימין נתניהו ארכיון
Benjamin Netanyahu may soon get the White House meeting he has been coveting
(Photo: Reuters)
And now, the leaves are starting to change color and we are in September, which is autumn, and not only that, the two leaders will be speaking at the United Nations General Assembly this month, just two days apart. Biden usually holds meetings on the sidelines of the UN meeting, sometimes in his hotel office, sometimes near the escalators.
Netanyahu does not want standing in the corridor. He wants all the ceremony that a leader gets at the White House: entering through the main gate and sitting next to the president by the burning fireplace - a photo opportunity for reporters to broadcast home that he is back, if only for a moment, to being an international leader.
Netanyahu's chances of being called for a meeting at the White House are increasing these days, not because Biden has forgiven Netanyahu for his lies and frauds - he still calls him ungrateful - but because a convergence of interests has occurred.
Netanyahu's magic has long since expired in the White House. This time, if it happens, he will have to pay in advance for dining at the White House, which is known to not provide a free lunch. And on Monday he started making that payment: dramatically, at least that's what was said in his surroundings, he is ready to freeze the judicial overhaul. Without that, at least, he knows he'll find a locked door in Washington.
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The White House
The White House
The White House
(Photo: AP)
If Netanyahu walks calmly away from the White House, it will only be due to the fact that there is a meeting of powers, and currently Biden's interest is to hitch Saudi Arabia to his wagon: Biden knows that if he does not give Saudi Arabia, as it demands, nuclear facilities for civilian purposes, within two minutes the Chinese will come to Riyadh and build a plant for it.
Biden cannot lose his grip on another part of the world in favor of the Chinese, certainly not in an election year. In order to give the Saudis what they want, he needs Israel not to put a spoke in his wheel. And what's more, the Saudis demand that if Israel is part of the deal, that is, if some kind of normalization agreement is signed between Riyadh and Jerusalem, Israel should give the a myriad of benefits to the Palestinians and create a favorable atmosphere for talks on a two-state solution.
A grandiose ceremony on the lawn of the White House, where Biden is the matchmaker for some kind of agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel, can help him in the election campaign where he is still faltering. This time Netanyahu is making noises that he is about to open his wallet. From Cyprus, he signaled to Washington on Monday that he will be able to give the Palestinians what the Americans demand.
Netanyahu's interest has also become Biden's interest, both are aimed at Saudi Arabia. And if Netanyahu reaches the White House, it means that he rolled over and that he has given up in a big way: both on the issue of the judicial overhaul and on the issue of the Palestinians.
Biden recognizes that Netanyahu has difficulty keeping promises, and will welcome him with respect and suspicion. Therefore, Netanyahu is expected to receive there, if invited, not only a sweet carrot but also a large stick. The sanctions are already on the table, wrapped in cellophane of polite words. Biden will not be satisfied with just promises, he will demand a timetable for implementation.
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