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Netanyahu ‘should think twice about coming to DC’

A visit could make the PM “a stage prop for prominent Democrats to lecture and embarrass,” American Enterprise Institute's Michael Rubin tells JNS.

The-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.
The-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.

In a phone call on Monday, President Joe Biden invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with him in the U.S.

The call, which Netanyahu’s office called “warm and long,” was the culmination of several weeks of diplomatic tensions, which included Biden’s sharp criticism of Netanyahu’s coalition during a July 7 CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria.

But Michael Rubin, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told JNS that Netanyahu should be cautious about accepting Biden’s invitation.

Biden’s team has a “schizophrenic relationship with the Jewish state,” Rubin said. “Coming to Washington might mean being a stage prop for prominent Democrats to lecture and embarrass Netanyahu.”

The Israeli premier “should think twice about coming to D.C. in the midst of a particularly poisonous U.S. election campaign, lest he be used for Biden or Kennedy or any number of congressmen and senators to try to ‘out-progressive’ each other,” Rubin said. (Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is also vying for the Democratic nomination for president.)

Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law School professor emeritus and prominent litigator and commentator, sees the Biden invitation differently. “It’s long overdue but a good sign,” he told JNS.

Biden’s and Netanyahu’s call came a day after Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) “clarified” that at a conference on the previous day, she meant to call Israel’s government racist, and not the state itself. Other members of Congress who spoke at the event also attacked Israel.

Biden previously criticized Netanyahu’s coalition as “one of the most extreme” Israeli government’s he’s ever seen. He had been criticized for not inviting Netanyahu to the White House since the latter’s reelection in November.

The Biden invitation is for Netanyahu to meet with Biden “soon,” Einav Hadari, deputy spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, told JNS. Netanyahu “accepted the invitation and it was agreed that Israeli and American teams will coordinate the details of the meeting.”

A White House official, who spoke on background, told JNS that the two leaders will meet later this year.

Of the meeting, whenever it might occur, Rubin said: “Simply put, it makes sense visiting Washington if it can advance relations. If not, why bother?”

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