Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and National Security Council head Tzachi Hanegbi are expected to leave again for a political visit to the United States. On the agenda: concern over progress in Iran's nuclear program.
This will be their second visit with their counterparts to the United States in three months, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet been invited to the White House himself. Dermer, a close associate of Netanyahu, is defined by senior government officials as the prime minister's "liaison office" to the Biden administration. Since his appointment, he has been required to examine the administration's attitude toward various measures taken by the government, and Netanyahu is steering his policy accordingly. On the one hand, in order to preserve the right-wing government he established, and on the other hand, so as not to tear the thread with the democratic administration.
Dermer, Photo: Jonathan Zindel, Flash 90
In recent weeks, on Dermer's recommendation and after pressure from the White House through him, Netanyahu took his party member Ariel Kellner's NPOs law off the table. The issue has been extensively covered in recent days, but behind the scenes another law created by the Likud for the forfeiture of funds paid by the PA in support of terrorism is being "frozen" in the same way. The law was laid down by MK Amit Halevy and was intended to amend the law, and instead of freezing the terror funds, they would be forfeited. In the meantime, the law will not be advanced for similar reasons. The US did not like the wording of the proposal, and Netanyahu is reducing unnecessary friction with them.
Netanyahu and Lapid go head-to-head in debate with 40 signatures // Credit: Knesset Channel
Indeed, throughout the ranks of ministers and at the political and military levels, cooperation with the current American administration is described as close. Just last week, Hanegbi said, "The connection between us and the Americans has never been so close and so satisfying." IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy made similar remarks: "The prime minister has spoken with Biden several times since he was elected, and I speak with my counterpart regularly. The military leaders are in very close contact, and the defense minister is in close contact with his counterpart. The connection is close at levels that anyone in this room can be happy with. The Americans are with us," Hanegbi ruled.
US President Joe Biden, Photo: AP
According to political sources, other international issues that have been discussed with Netanyahu in recent weeks are being addressed on two legs: one – caution is required vis-à-vis the US administration for important political needs, and second, Dermer will examine the issue. Thus, as noted, the decision was made last weekend to remove the NPOs Law from the agenda of the Ministerial Committee. While European countries were putting pressure on the foreign minister's office, a good friend knocked on Dermer's door. Sources overseas also claimed that Dermer was Netanyahu's publisher and convener vis-à-vis Biden's people.
The visit as a punitive tool
After the budget was approved and his government's political horizon stabilized, and in light of the threats from Iran, Netanyahu turned his efforts to the political front. Iran first, but of course also the continued expansion of the Abraham Accords, and Saudi Arabia first. The battles against the closest friend are carefully chosen: arranging settlements in Judea and Samaria - yes; The NPOs Law - No, as well as regulating the five-year residence on state land at the expense of a diplomatic dispute with the United States over issues of little importance.
Senior government ministers back Netanyahu's conduct as "responsible," but there are also those who claim that Netanyahu is turning the long-awaited visit to the White House into an effective punitive tool for the United States when he attaches so much importance to it. Such criticism came on Saturday night after Netanyahu removed the NGO Law from the agenda at the demand of the United States: "Netanyahu attaches too much importance to the invitation and therefore gives power to the Biden administration against him." On the other hand, the government claims that Biden is doing Netanyahu a favor based on personal connections when he does not put the Palestinian issue on his agenda.
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