“While the Biden Administration is citing technical-logistical reasons which have led to the postponement of the trip, one cannot help feeling that the White House wants to see if the Bennett-Lapid government survives for a few more months or if new elections are called,” says Dan Arbell, a scholar-in-residence at the Center for Israeli Studies at American University.
“The Israeli political picture will be clearer in July and it’ll give the administration more time to prepare the visit and decide on its messaging,” he said. “Also, the visit to Israel is tied to other stops in the region, and it gives the White House more time to try and arrange a regional leaders summit or moves which would broaden and deepen the Abraham Accords.”
Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington said that the president “has an awful lot on his plate at the moment.”
“Economic woes and divisive domestic politics are front and center,” he said.
The Israeli political picture will be clearer in July and it’ll give the administration more time to prepare the visit and decide on its messagingDan Arbell
“For this trip to the Middle East to be a success, he needs real wins that he can sell back to a beleaguered and disillusioned American public. Such wins, whether steps toward normalization or long-term energy guarantees or something else, could take more than a few short weeks to lock down.”
Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to Washington, said that many considerations go into deciding when, where and how a president travels abroad. “Many of those considerations may be domestic – for example, the rising gun violence in the United States. In Israel’s case, it may also reflect reticence to visit a country where the current government may [no] longer be in office.”
Dan Shapiro, former US Ambassador to Israel, said that the delay “makes no difference in the quality of the trip.”
He emphasized that “in June, Biden can focus on Ukraine and the European agenda at the G7 and NATO summits. When he travels to Israel and Saudi Arabia in July, he can give the Middle East agenda his full attention.”
Biden’s Riyadh trip could be an unprecedented one, with American news outlets reporting that the White House is pushing for a first-ever one-on-one meeting between Biden and Saudi crown prince and de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS.