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Biden and Netanyahu's decades-long friendship faces new test after Israel's Prime Minister went all in for Trump

February 1, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 21.3%. 2 min read.

US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been friends, allies and partners in a relationship that has spanned nearly four decades. When they first met, Biden was a junior senator in his early 40s; Netanyahu was a fledgling diplomat nearly a decade younger. Now with their first phone call expected imminently, the two must decide how their relationship will evolve, at the height of their careers and the peak of their powers.

(CNN)US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been friends, allies and partners in a relationship that has spanned nearly four decades.

Over the years, the two men got to know each other, met each other's families, and kept in contact as Netanyahu rose through politics to become Israel's prime minister in 1996.

When Netanyahu lost his election to Ehud Barak three years later, "Biden stayed in touch with him, wrote him an occasional note, things politicians wouldn't ordinarily do," said a source familiar with the relationship.

When Biden visited Israel in 2010, Netanyahu's government announced new settlement building in East Jerusalem, which then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called "insulting. "

In 2014, Biden said he once told Netanyahu, "Bibi, I don't agree with a damn thing you say, but I love you. " Biden's friendship with the brash Israeli leader was seen as an asset during the Obama presidency, and Biden was thought of as the one who could smooth things out, according to sources familiar with the dynamics.

Netanyahu long ago became a political chameleon, shifting from the Prime Minister who endorsed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an important speech in 2009 to the leader who endorsed Trump's vision for Middle East peace a decade later, which discarded any conventional notion of two states for two peoples.

Biden has a strong belief in foreign policy built, in part, on personal relationships, analysts told CNN, but his friendship with Netanyahu will likely be tested by political pressure in the months to come.

Even so, Biden is not expected to put Israeli-Palestinian negotiations very high on his agenda, according to one former Obama official who worked on the region, who said the administration "does not want to spend the political capital" on the issue.

"With Biden, there won't be this perception that he is out to get [Netanyahu]," said veteran diplomat Dennis Ross, who served as a Middle East negotiator and adviser to three US administrations.

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