Biden shakes hands with former Israeli prime minister and begins no-handshake policy shortly before meeting in Saudi Arabia

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President Biden appears to have quickly abandoned his no-handshake policy during his Middle East tourleading some to speculate that the White House adopted the policy simply to avoid a politically uncomfortable meeting later on the trip.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan announced on Wednesday that the president will avoid handshakes during the four-day trip due to high bail due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The President appears to have followed this policy when he arrived in Israel, greeting Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and other officials with punches.

But soon after that Biden shook hands with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – all without a face mask and without any precautions against COVID-19.

Biden visited Madrid in June to attend the G7 conference at a time when the city’s COVID-19 cases averaged over 2,000 new cases over a seven-day period. During this time, Biden has had no trouble shaking hands and talking to a number of leaders from around the world, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a man convicted of his country’s crackdown on human rights activists, suppression of press freedom, and arrests and harassment of journalists.

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The handshake with Netanyahu has led some to believe that White House policy has nothing to do with COVID-19, but to avoid negative press with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The White House and State Department did not respond to requests for comment or clarification.

President Joe Biden shakes hands with former Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu despite a White House warning that the president will avoid handshakes due to COVID-19 concerns.

President Joe Biden shakes hands with former Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu despite a White House warning that the president will avoid handshakes due to COVID-19 concerns.
(Gideon Markovich / TPS)

Biden will fly to Jeddah and meet with King Salman and the Crown Prince on Friday, according to the New York Times. The apparent upheaval in his handshake policy will only heighten the focus on how world leaders greet each other.

The White House insisted this week that the trip aimed at “advancing American interests”, denying that the president went to the Middle East to push OPEC leaders to increase oil production as the world continues to grapple with a fuel crisis.

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“I’m saying it’s not, it’s not in the spotlight,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Monday, adding that it “isn’t on the agenda.”

“Obviously, this should be decided by OPEC. Saudi Arabia is chairing this issue, so we just want to be clear on this matter,” she added.

Biden has already faced incredible scrutiny for his visit to Saudi Arabia, the Washington Post reported on Monday. article publication Washington Post publisher and CEO Fred Ryan, in which he said the president’s trip “undermines our moral authority.”

“When, in search of votes, Biden promised to make Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman “Outcast” for his role in the assassination, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the world had every reason to think that’s what he meant,” Ryan wrote in an article on Monday. knee to shake the bloody hand of the “outcast”? He’s looking for voices again,” Ryan wrote.

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Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was killed in 2018 by Saudi security forces. Documents declassified in February 2021 made it clear that the US government blamed the assassination on the crown prince.

“We base this assessment on the Crown Prince’s control of decision-making in the Kingdom, the direct involvement of key adviser and security guards Mohammed bin Salman in the operation, and the Crown Prince’s support for the use of violent measures to silence dissidents abroad. including Khashoggi,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) said in a statement.

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Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia on his first foreign visit as president and did not bear a grudge against the Arab nation. Democrats chided Trump for not taking the assassination more seriously.

Brooke Singman of Fox News, Timothy Nezrozzi, Greg Norman and Hannah Panrek contributed to this report.