Nov 29, 2022
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US President Joe Biden has yet to call Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his victory in last week’s elections. This snub follows a pattern with both leaders delaying in congratulating each other after election victories.

In elections that recorded the highest voter turnout since 1999,  the Likud Party, headed by Netanyahu, garnered 32 seats. This makes it possible for Netanyahu to form a right-wing coalition of 64 seats and serve a third term as prime minister. 

Yesh Atid, headed by Yair Lapid, won 24 seats. Lapid has already called Netanyahu and conceded the election.

While several world leaders have already called Netanyahu, Biden has not. The US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, has, to date, been the only representative of the Biden administration that has made a congratulatory phone call to Netanyahu. Last week, he phoned Netanyahu and said that he could expect a call from the president in the near future. He explained that President Biden is busy campaigning for the midterm elections which will be held on Tuesday.

This delay is similar to what took place two years ago when President Biden was elected. After taking office, Biden delayed calling then-Prime Minister Netanyahu for four weeks. When outgoing Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett was elected, it took Biden just two hours to call and congratulate him.

But this habit of delaying is bilateral. After Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the 2020 elections, Netanyahu delayed calling Biden for several days until the election results were positively determined.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Free Beacon that the president’s delay in calling Netanyahu “is not an accident.”

“President Biden rushed to call Lula, a committed anti-American Chavista, but is finding every possible excuse not to call the next Prime Minister of Israel. That is not an accident,” Cruz said. “Biden has spent his entire administration undermining America’s allies and boosting America’s enemies. The next Republican Congress is going to leverage aggressive oversight and legislation to reverse that recklessness.”

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken phoned outgoing interim Prime Minister Lapid to “commend Israel for its free and fair elections, and to thank the prime minister for his partnership” as well as emphasize his concerns over the “heightened tensions” in the West Bank. 

Blinken also phoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to reaffirm the administration’s commitment to the two-state solution and the creation of a Palestinian state.

On Wednesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that “we hope that all Israeli government officials will continue to share the values of an open, democratic society including tolerance and respect for all in civil society, particularly for minority groups.”

This reluctance may be due to the right-wing parties that will help form the coalition. The Religious Zionist Party, headed by Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, won 15 seats in the election. In an article published last week, unnamed US and Israeli officials told Axios that while the Biden administration will work with any elected government in Israel, it might have a problem working with specific politicians, but didn’t name them.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price made a pointed statement in a briefing on Wednesday, saying, “We hope all Israeli government officials will continue to share the values of open democratic society including tolerance and respect for all minority groups.”