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On the surface, Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to the White House on Tuesday felt like old times. U.S. President Joe Biden warmly greeted Israel’s ceremonial head of state and repeatedly stated that the U.S.’s commitment to Israel is “ironclad.” Biden mentioned that he spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the day before and arranged a visit for Israel’s actual leader.

So, are we back to normal? Were the last seven months of unprecedented U.S. hostility towards Israel, its elected government, its parliamentary deliberations, its senior ministers and its prime minister a blip on the screen, now undone?

Apparently not. Shortly after Herzog left the White House, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman wrote that Biden met with him at the White House after Herzog departed and claimed that Biden read Netanyahu the riot act in his conversation with the premier on Monday.

Biden did so because of the Netanyahu government’s intention to pass parts of its judicial reform program without the support of its political opponents. The White House also told reporters that Biden didn’t invite Netanyahu to the White House, he just agreed to meet him somewhere.

Israeli National Security Adviser Tzahi Hanegbi told reporters that Friedman’s report of the Biden-Netanyahu conversation is simply wrong. It probably is. All the same, it’s hard to imagine Friedman invented the story out of whole cloth. In all likelihood, Biden decided to put out a hostile readout of the conversation at odds with both the White House account and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office’s account of the phone call.

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