Netanyahu’s partisan commitment to Trump before the election was as blatant as the enormous banner he once draped over a Tel Aviv office building picturing the two of them together. When U.S. media designated Biden the winner on Nov. 7, Netanyahu delayed until the next day before publicly congratulating him — conspicuously behind other close U.S. allies. Even then, the prime minister’s tweet did not address Biden as president-elect, nor explicitly acknowledge he had won. Fourteen minutes later, Netanyahu separately tweeted thanks to Trump for “the friendship you have shown the state of Israel and me personally.”
Since then, Netanyahu has publicly taken a militant stand against one of Biden’s principal foreign policy pledges: that he would return the United States to the nuclear accord with Iran. And Israel is widely reported to be behind the Nov. 27 assassination of Iran’s leading nuclear scientist. That provocative act will not slow, and may even accelerate, Iran’s renewed nuclear activity, including uranium enrichment. But the killing could sabotage Biden’s attempt to revive diplomacy.
Netanyahu’s preparations for a Biden administration actually began before the election. On Oct. 14, a government committee approved 2,260 new housing units in the occupied West Bank — two-thirds of them in areas that would almost certainly be included in the Palestinian state that Biden strongly supports. Remarkably, 600 of the new units were designated for Jewish settlements that were prohibited from expanding even under Trump’s grotesquely one-sided Mideast peace plan, which Netanyahu endorsed.