Biden won't be shaking hands in Israel due to COVID surge

The White House has reportedly told Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office that due to the surge in COVID-19 infections in the US and Israel, the president will refrain from shaking hands.

 US PRESIDENT Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One for a flight to Los Angeles this week. If Biden is coming to the Mideast to criticize and slow Israeli building in Judea and Samaria and greater Jerusalem, pull back, says the writer. (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
US PRESIDENT Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One for a flight to Los Angeles this week. If Biden is coming to the Mideast to criticize and slow Israeli building in Judea and Samaria and greater Jerusalem, pull back, says the writer.
(photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

There are surely a number of Israeli ministers, MKs and dignitaries who were looking forward to shaking hands this week with the president of the United States during his visit to Jerusalem.

They will be disappointed. According to media reports, the White House has informed the Prime Minister’s Office that Joe Biden, 79, will not shake hands with Israeli ministers or MKs who greet him upon arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday.

What have past US presidents done?

During past presidential visits, the ministers of the cabinets, the president of Israel and the prime minister all greet the president. The list of VIPs usually includes the IDF chief of staff and the chief of police. When Donald Trump visited Israel in 2017, he shook hands with all of the ministers and dignitaries and was then caught for a selfie by then-Likud MK Oren Hazan.

The White House has reportedly told Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office that due to the surge in COVID-19 infections in the US and Israel, the president will refrain from shaking hands during his visit.

US President Joe Biden and Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett chat during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, US (credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)US President Joe Biden and Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett chat during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, US (credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)

According to a recent report in The New York Times, White House aides are overly cautious about exposing the president to the coronavirus. They are tested once a week and wear colored wristbands on the day of their test. If aides attend meetings with the president, they must test that morning and wear N95 masks.