WASHINGTON, DC – President Joe Biden is having the worst week of his presidency.
Biden is under blistering criticism by many in the mainstream media and by members of Congress from both parties over his decision to suddenly pull all U.S. military forces out of Afghanistan.
It is, after all, a decision that has set into motion the collapse of the democratically elected government in Kabul, and a takeover by the Taliban terrorist movement.
The decision is also rattling U.S. allies all over the globe who are worried that the Biden administration is not prepared to stand firmly with its allies and take a firm stand against its enemies.
Enter into the maelstrom the leader of America’s closest ally in the volatile Middle East.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will arrive in Washington next week and is scheduled to meet with Biden at the White House on Thursday.
It will be their first face-to-face meeting since both men took office earlier this year.
The White House today issued the following statement:
President Biden will welcome Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel to the White House on August 26, 2021. Prime Minister Bennett’s visit will strengthen the enduring partnership between the United States and Israel, reflect the deep ties between our governments and our people, and underscore the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security. The President and Prime Minister Bennett will discuss critical issues related to regional and global security, including Iran. The visit will also be an opportunity for the two leaders to discuss efforts to advance peace, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians and the importance of working towards a more peaceful and secure future for the region.
While fighting COVID and advancing regional peace – including building upon the Abraham Accords – are on the agenda, Bennett today said his main focus will be how to work with the U.S. on confronting and neutralizing the rapidly growing Iran threat.
“We completed a process of formulating a policy… about the Iranian issue in all dimensions,” Bennett told Israeli reporters on Wednesday, saying the policy includes “an approach of cooperation, an approach that will know how to block Iran’s negative regional activities of instability, harming of human rights, terror and preventing Iran from advancing toward a nuclear weapon breakout.”
“Iran is at the most advanced point ever in the field of [uranium] enrichment,” Bennett stressed, “but we know and we have a plan to deal with this and maintain the security of Israeli citizens.”
Sources close to the prime minister indicate he is hoping to establish a warm, friendly and close working relationship with Biden.
The administration’s surrender in Afghanistan is complicating the trip because it plays directly to Israel's fear that the U.S. may not be trusted to deal firmly with the Iranian regime and may not stand closely with the Jewish state if military force is needed to neutralize the Iran nuclear threat.
So far, neither Bennett nor Foreign Minister Yair Lapid have commented publicly on the Afghan situation.
But the collapse of government in Kabul – and the firestorm of controversy over Biden’s handling of the crisis – is suddenly putting Bennett’s trip in a very different light.
That said, Bennett is expected to be in Washington only briefly.
The threat that he or any member of his team could contract COVID, despite being fully vaccinated, is something the Prime Minister’s Office is working hard to avoid.
It is unclear, therefore, what if any other in-person meetings Bennett will have while on U.S. soil.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.