Sunday, December 5

Biden and Bennett bury years of disagreement between the US and Israel and reserve options against Iran “if diplomacy fails” | International

The turbulent situation in Afghanistan, which shakes Joe Biden’s presidency daily, loomed like a shadow over Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit to the White House. The double attack in Kabul forced the appointment to be postponed for 24 hours on Thursday, but the first meeting between the American and the Israeli since both took office on Friday took on the character of a meeting between two old allies. Years of resentment and turbulence, during the terms of Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, were reset in a meeting with an absolute priority, to bring positions closer to Iran, and an elephant in the room, the Palestinian question. Afghanistan did not slip through, regardless of the condolence statements, as Biden declined questions from journalists out of respect for his guest.

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The understanding presided over his appearance at the White House, in a succession of statements that seemed to corroborate the previous one. “The US-Israel relationship is as strong as it can be,” Biden said. “The US is the most reliable ally you can have,” Bennett replied, recalling “the unwavering support” of his country for Washington. In passing, Biden noted his intention to study “ways to promote peace and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians.” But the highlight of the meeting was Iran. “We will discuss our commitment to the security of Israel and the Iranian threat. We put diplomacy first, but if diplomacy fails, we will consider other options, ”Biden confirmed. Bennett replied with the same phrase, but warning: “We have to stop the centrifuges [de uranio] of Iran ”, key in the development of its nuclear program.

In addition to winks and pats on the shoulder, Bennett will get a billion-dollar special aid from Washington to replenish the reserves of the Iron Dome anti-missile system. Other issues, such as the challenges posed to both countries and the international community by the covid-19 pandemic, were also on the table.

The harmony between the two preceded the face-to-face meeting. It took Biden just two hours to call Bennett after Bennett’s election as prime minister in June; It took him a month, however, from his arrival at the White House, to phone Netanyahu. Bennett already anticipated it on Tuesday, before flying to Washington: “Joe Biden is a true friend of Israel. There is a new Administration in the United States and a new Government in Israel, and I carry with me from Jerusalem a new spirit of cooperation ”.

Righting mistakes, and avoiding confrontation, is the new Israeli attitude. Reformulate the tone of the bilateral relationship and approach positions on -or against- Iran, especially when Washington tries to recover the 2015 nuclear agreement, from which Donald Trump withdrew from the United States three years later. Iran was the main subject of Bennet’s meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken; Defense Minister Lloyd Austin and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan – a defender of the nuclear pact – held on the eve of the double attack in Kabul. According to the newspaper Yedioth Ahoronoth, Bennet planned to present his host with a joint plan of action towards Iran, viable even in the event of Iranian consent to a reissue of the agreement.

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The two leaders have turned the page on years of tensions between Bennet’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the previous Democratic administration of Barack Obama, in which Biden served as vice president. The privileged relationship between Netanyahu and the Republican Donald Trump is responsible for the reconfiguration of the game of regional balances, with the so-called Abraham Agreements to normalize relations with four Arab countries, which in practice buried the Palestinian question. The move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, another bold move by Trump, clinched Washington’s pro-Israel stance.

According to the newspaper Ma’arivAnother important issue on the table will be Israel’s privileged relationship with China, the main strategic rival of the US Washington has repeatedly asked Israel, at each high-level bilateral meeting, to reduce its trade with Beijing. On his last visit to Israel, CIA Director William Burns delivered a clear message about the US’s dissatisfaction with China’s prominent place in the Israeli economy, with investments in infrastructure and the port of Haifa, among others. . As a result of investment, China has hairstyle the entire eastern Mediterranean, from Cyprus to Serbia via the ports of Greece, within the framework of the New Silk Road.

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