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Aiming to keep disagreements behind closed doors, Rivlin heads to Washington

10 7 0

Seven years after he was sworn in and two weeks before he is to leave office, President Reuven Rivlin embarked on an important journey of reassurance and renewal, heading to Washington on Saturday night.

In his seven years in office, Rivlin was far from a frequent flier. He traveled abroad sparingly, being careful not to step on then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s toes regarding honors and the handling of the country’s foreign relations. The president, whose role is mostly ceremonial, was sent on an occasional diplomatic mission, usually to advance Netanyahu’s political and security agenda.

This time, however, is different.

Rivlin is the first senior Israeli official to formally meet with US President Joe Biden since his inauguration in January 2021 (Biden “dropped by” a meeting at the White House between his National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Mossad chief Yossi Cohen last month). He is also the first senior official to go to Washington after the change of government in Israel.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi just finished up a week of extensive meetings in the US, but he did not meet with the president. This was reserved for Rivlin, whose visit comes as Biden is increasingly turning his attention to American foreign policy after successfully beating back the domestic outbreak of COVID-19 with a vaccination drive.

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Rivlin’s invitation to the White House came before the change of government in Israel earlier this month, but the timing created mutual curiosity for both new administrations.

In Washington, the Democratic Party returned to power after a four-year political rollercoaster. In Israel, after 12 years of Netanyahu’s rule, his Likud party is in opposition and a group of new leaders largely unfamiliar to the........

© The Times of Israel

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