U.S.-Israel Tensions Harm Key U.S. Interests

On Wednesday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog addressed a joint session of Congress after meeting President Biden the day before. Herzog’s visit—absent a similar visit from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu— does more to highlight the rocky state of U.S.-Israel relations than it does to signal enduring partnership among two friends. On average, for each of the last ten Israeli prime ministerial terms, the new prime minister met the U.S. president within 64 days of taking office. It has now been more than 200 days since Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected, yet the Israeli prime minister has still not met with Biden. An invitation was extended the day before Herzog’s visit began but reportedly not to the White House. Biden’s comments calling Netanyahu’s government “the most extreme” he has seen have not endeared the two leaders to one another either. Attempts by high-profile columnists and members of Congress to distance Washington from Jerusalem are also indicative of complications in the partnership.

Both Israel’s and America’s adversaries are seizing on these cracks in the U.S.-Israel relationship. Netanyahu recently announced his intention to accept an invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Beijing later this year—the latest Chinese effort to increase its influence in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Tehran continues to advance its nuclear program and attempts to encircle Israel. If the Biden administration continues to focus on political differences with Israel, it risks missing the opportunity to cooperate and the more important strategic priorities of countering Iranian regime’s regional aggression and China’s growing regional footprint.

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Zac Schildcrout – Policy Analyst