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Forgetting His Script, Biden Undercuts Bid To Avoid MBS Handshake

Forgetting His Script, Biden Undercuts Bid To Avoid MBS Handshake

A not-so-sharp Joe Biden just blew a big hole in a White House scheme to avoid a politically embarrassing public handshake with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the man Biden says is responsible for murder – and the man who rules the country candidate Biden pledged to treat as a “pariah.” 

Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia this week has drawn fire from everyone from human rights activists to Jamal Khashoggi’s widow to 9/11 victims. Khashoggi’s fiancée says Biden committed to bring up his murder during his visit. Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post writer, was lured to the Saudi consulate in Instanbul where he was murdered and dismembered. His body has never been found. 

Given the criticism and the trip’s glaring inconsistency with his own campaign promise, the White House was staring at a major public relations and diplomacy challenge—how can Biden avoid shaking Mohammed bin Salman’s hand without creating a public humiliation? 

They’d cooked up the perfect pretense. Out of an abundance of caution as the Covid-19 Omicron variant runs free and easily bypasses the purported protection of vaccines, Biden wouldn’t shake hands with anyone during his trip, which started Wednesday with a visit to Saudi Arabia’s under-the-counter ally, Israel. 

Even the best plan has its vulnerabilities. The Achilles heel of this scheme was its reliance on Biden actually remembering it. 

“It started off well, with Biden cautiously — if awkwardly — fist-bumping the Israel premier and several other officials after stepping off Air Force One in Tel Aviv,” reports Bloomberg

But then things quickly went off the rails. It started when Biden engaged in an extended handshake with former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden reportedly said, “You know I love you.”

That profession can’t be sincere, as the two have a contentious relationship. For one example, during a 2010 Biden visit to Israel, Netanyahu famously blindsided and embarrassed the then-vice president by announcing the construction of hundreds of new Jewish homes in contested East Jerusalem. Biden retaliated by making Netanyahu wait at length for a dinner meeting. If nothing else, Biden’s profession of love today served as a warm-up for the humiliation that awaits Biden in Riyadh on Friday.  

In what had to be intentional mischief, Netanyahu proceeded to tweet video that doesn’t merely show the script-breaking handshake, but actually zooms in and isolates it in slow-motion:  

The Netanyahu handshake was just the initial mental lapse. On his mandatory visit to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, Biden “couldn’t seem to stop [shaking hands] with other Israeli officials,” reports Bloomberg

And so, Biden’s Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) meeting just grew more interesting. Let’s hope the White House doesn’t intend for Biden to fist-bump him…that would look awful chummy.  

Tyler Durden
Thu, 07/14/2022 – 04:15

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