President Joe Biden doubled down on refusing to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pay a customary visit to the White House, despite the fact that Netanyahu was elected last year by the Israeli people.
Biden said in March that he would not invite Netanyahu to the White House because of the his government’s attempt to reform Israel’s powerful judiciary — reforms that largely parallel existing practice in the U.S.
In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria Sunday, Biden said that he would not invite Netanyahu until he could “work through … his existing problems in terms of his coalition,” referring to Israel’s governing parties.
Biden said that some of Netanyahu’s coalition partners were the “most extreme members of Cabinet that I’ve seen” since meeting Prime Minister Golda Meir in the early 1970s, whom he noted was not an extremist.
However, Biden met quickly with both prime ministers from the last coalition government, which included an Arab party regarded as extremist by many Israeli Jews because it denies the right of the State of Israel to exist.
Biden described himself on CNN as an “unyielding supporter of Israel” and added that some of the problems in the region were the fault of the Palestinian Authority leaders, whom he said created a “vacuum for extremism.”
However, he said that he opposed members of Netanyahu’s cabinet who, he said, believed that Jews can “settle anywhere where we want” in the historic territories of Judea and Samaria, captured from Jordan in a defensive war in 1967. Some portions of those territories are administered by the Palestinian Authority, and the area is still disputed between the two sides.
Biden said that he hoped Netanyahu “will continue to move toward moderation,” suggesting the White House has made close ties conditional on the kind of government Israelis elect, overriding respect for democracy.
Biden also said a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel — which was said to be close at hand in the final months of the Trump administration — is “a little way off.” Biden has adopted a tough approach to the Saudis, which in turn has caused them to turn to China in recent months.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.