World Leaders Congratulate Benjamin Netanyahu: Still Not a Peep from Silent Biden

 World leaders have congratulated Benjamin Netanyahu, slated to make his comeback as Israel’s prime minister, but so far President Joe Biden is remaining tight-lipped.

Newly appointed British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak congratulated Netanyahu, saying he “looks forward to working with returning prime minister.”

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday called Netanyahu on the phone, saying later on Twitter: “We share the same desire to strengthen the already strong ties between Israel and France.”

According to Hebrew media reports, the two leaders discussed regional issues including Iran’s nuclear program.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the fray, congratulating Netanyahu, whose Likud Party was the largest to emerge from the election, winning 32 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. The forthcoming government will be Israel’s most right-wing to date.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides on Friday reportedly said the delay with Biden’s congratulatory call was due to the American president’s full schedule ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Nides himself telephoned Netanyahu on Thursday, telling him he looked forward to working together to advance their nations’ common interests.

By contrast, Biden congratulated the left-wing Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) almost immediately after he won last Sunday’s election in Brazil, and followed up his official statement with a telephone call the next day, though the election was close and disputed.

This isn’t the first time Biden has postponed calling Netanyahu. He waited a whopping 28 days to call Netanyahu after taking office in January last year, suggesting the two governments would not be as close as the Trump administration had been with Israel.

As Joel Pollak notes, during last May’s hostilities between Israel and Hamas the new Biden administration tried pressuring Israel at first, until the Israeli government pushed back and it became clear that Hamas was fomenting riots in Jerusalem to win broader Arab and Muslim support for rocket launches at Israeli civilians.

Netanyahu is the longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s history, having governed from 1996 to 1999, and again from 2009 to 2021.

The official results from last week’s election will be presented to Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday, after which  the Israeli president will have a week to meet with all the party leaders before tasking Netanyahu with forming the next government.

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