Joe Biden and Bibi, the Israeli Prime Minister, are struggling to get a grip on their relationship, especially after Bibi’s long-term friendship with former President Donald Trump. As violence escalates between Israel and Palestine and the left urges Biden to be more forceful with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the relationship between the two is becoming strained.
In a phone call with Bibi, Biden reportedly said enough is enough regarding the violence that has surged in the last nine days. Though Biden isn’t quite ready to step on any toes and intends to give Netanyahu space to sort things out, the pressure building from the political left is mounting. The President told the Israeli Prime Minister that “he expected a significant de-escalation today” after pleas for the Israeli government to cut back on its militaristic retaliation.
The White House reported on the conversation between Biden and Bibi, explaining that “the President conveyed to the Prime Minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire.” The conversation marked the fourth time the two leaders spoke to one another during this rising conflict. As rockets continue to bombard residential streets and end both Palestinian and Israeli lives, those conversations are becoming more and more necessary.
Over the past week, at least 219 Palestinians and 12 Israelis have died during airstrikes from both sides. Israel claims that more than 3,400 rockets have bombarded its cities and towns, though it’s heavily protected by its Iron Dome defense system. The piling bodies have brought to light an important question regarding Joe Biden and his relationship with the Israeli Prime Minister.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre spoke on Biden’s intent to de-escalate the situation, calling on Bibi to make radical changes in his strategy to combat further violence. “The president has done this for a long time, for decades,” Jean-Pierre said. “He believes this is the approach we need to be taking. He wants to make sure we end the violence and the suffering we have seen for the Palestinian and Israeli people.”
The Israel-Palestine conflict marks the first big foreign policy test for Joe Biden, with Americans keeping a close eye on whether the President has any influence at all over the Israeli Prime Minister. The conversation surrounding their relationship is more important than ever but is worrisome for many that remember Bibi’s buddy-buddy time when Trump was in office.
The former President was fairly cozy with the Prime Minister, declaring in 2019 that “our relationship is powerful.” After meeting at the White House to sign an official proclamation recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Bibi also described their historic relationship.
“You’ve always been there, including today,” Bibi said to Trump. “I thank you.” It has been said that the two have “forged a symbiotic alliance,” especially as they neared re-election around the same time. Together, they ushered in plenty of goodwill, using their platform to bolster the other.
Many on the political left, including 28 Democratic Senators, have called for a cease-fire between Israel and Palestine, and it seems Israel isn’t ready to budge. If Joe Biden had stronger ties with Bibi, things might have already ended. So far, though, there have been four calls and nothing has changed.
Perhaps Israel is ready to lay down arms and attempt a diplomatic approach to end the violence. However, if things continue to escalate, there’s no telling what Joe Biden will do.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, admitted that “there is still a lot of work to do to send a clear, resounding message to Hamas that their aggression, the fact that they attacked us, is something that we will not tolerate now, and it will have no home for the future.”