Bennett checked off all his boxes in Washington - analysis

AuthorLAHAV HARKOV
Publication Date28 Aug 2021
There were some curveballs thrown his way – after all, the plan was for him to be home with his family in Ra'anana for Shabbat and not at a hotel near the White House – but he still managed to check off every box on his public to-do list.

Bennett had seven or eight items on that list but only made four of them public.

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First, Bennett wanted to create a positive, unmediated connection between himself and US President Joe Biden.

That was probably the easiest one. Both sides wanted, at the very least, to show that the US-Israel relationship is on track and doing well in the post-Netanyahu, post-Trump era. They held a 50-minute, one-on-one meeting – which, unusually, took place over tea in Biden's private dining room off of the Oval Office.

Biden said during their photo-op in the Oval Office that they're already "close friends," and that they bonded talking about rides on Amtrak trains. In their meeting, Bennett shared a story of how his father, Jim, had been arrested in the 1960s at a sit-in against a hotel in California that would not accept black patrons.

Bennett said after the meeting that the atmosphere was "excellent," that he felt Biden and his top brass were open to listening to what he had to say, and that he can now call Biden directly. He also invited Biden to visit Israel.

We can see how committed Biden was to this goal, too, by the fact that he barely brought up the Palestinians, which is the area where he and Bennett disagree the most. Even behind the scenes, diplomatic sources say, settlements – which the Biden administration strongly opposes – and an American consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem – which Bennett strongly opposes – took a very small amount of their time. The impending evictions in Sheikh Jarrah didn't come up at all.

The second goal was not too difficult either, although there may be challenges ahead. Bennett sought to get a commitment from the Biden administration for $1 billion in aid to replenish Israel's Iron Dome missile-defense batteries. Biden already said he would help the Jewish state on that front in the immediate aftermath of May's Operation Guardian of the Walls before Bennett became prime minister, but the details needed to be worked out. Although Bennett had gotten a public "yes" on this front from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Wednesday, Biden repeated it.

The aid...

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