JERUSALEM — President Biden, who prides himself on having recognized each Israeli prime minister over half a century, met on Thursday with a brand new one: Yair Lapid, the chief of a caretaker authorities.
Unusually for a presidential go to, Mr. Biden has arrived in Israel amid an election marketing campaign, with Israelis getting ready to go again to the poll field on Nov. 1. But given the nation’s lengthy political deadlock and authorities instability, American officers would have been laborious pressed to discover a time when Israel was not in marketing campaign mode.
The final governing coalition, an unwieldy alliance of eight ideologically disparate events led by Naftali Bennett, misplaced its razor-thin parliamentary majority in June and collapsed only a yr after being sworn in. This will probably be Israel’s fifth election in beneath 4 years.
Whereas protocol calls for that Mr. Biden keep away from being drawn into home politics, his very presence may present a lift to Mr. Lapid, who’s operating for the premiership and is polling second after Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Nonetheless, a presidential go to is not any assure of success for an incumbent.
President Invoice Clinton famously got here to Israel for a 22-hour go to in March 1996, 4 months after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist who opposed the peace course of with the Palestinians and about 10 weeks earlier than a extremely charged nationwide election. Shimon Peres was prime minister on the time, however a wave of lethal Palestinian suicide bombings that killed greater than 60 civilians had broken his nationwide standing.
Mr. Clinton had clearly come to attempt to bolster the prime minister’s possibilities, and to attempt to revive Israeli religion within the peace course of. Nonetheless, Mr. Peres misplaced to Mr. Netanyahu, who served for 3 years till 1999, then returned to workplace a decade later.
Mr. Lapid, 58, the chief of the centrist Yesh Atid, has already served in authorities as a minister of finance, strategic affairs and overseas affairs, and as an alternate prime minister, together with a stint because the chief of the opposition. However he additionally suffers from a scarcity of safety credentials within the eyes of many Israelis. Discussing weighty points such because the Iranian nuclear menace with Mr. Biden may assist burnish his picture as a statesman.
“In Israeli historical past, the individuals who naturally entered the prime minister’s workplace had a safety background,” Nahum Barnea, a veteran political commentator for the favored Yediot Ahronot newspaper, mentioned in a latest interview, citing adorned generals who went on to turn out to be prime minister, reminiscent of Mr. Rabin, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon.
“It was once a prerequisite,” Mr. Barnea added, noting that Mr. Lapid had spent most of his compulsory military service as a author for a navy journal.
After arriving within the nation on Wednesday, Mr. Biden greeted Mr. Lapid warmly and draped an arm over his shoulder as in the event that they had been longtime pals. At a welcome ceremony moments later, Mr. Lapid known as the American chief “an amazing Zionist and among the finest pals Israel has ever recognized.”