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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (left) greets Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday at the Pentagon. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will visit the White House Friday, a day later than originally planned, and he'll find a president in distress.

Why it matters: This is not how the new prime minister imagined his first meeting with President Biden. An hour before he was supposed to walk into the Oval Office, disaster struck in Kabul.

Behind the scenes: Bennett and his advisers were getting ready to leave the Willard Hotel, just down the street from the White House, on Thursday when the first reports of explosions at the Kabul airport started coming in, per Bennett’s aides.

  • Fifteen minutes before the meeting’s 11:30am start time, the White House called Bennett’s aides and asked them to hold.
  • Bennett’s advisers told their White House counterparts that they understood the situation and that Bennett would accommodate himself to Biden's schedule.
  • An hour later, the White House told Bennett’s aides the meeting would be postponed, without providing a time. After waiting for three hours at the hotel, the White House told Bennett’s staff that the meeting was rescheduled for Friday morning.
  • Bennett issued a statement saying Israel stood with the U.S.
  • Biden called Bennett on Thursday evening to thank him for his understanding and Bennett offered his condolences to the American people, the prime minister's office said.

What’s next: Bennett was planning to discuss several issues with Biden: Iran, U.S. military aid to Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israel’s request to enter the U.S. visa waiver program.

  • But after the Kabul attack, it is unclear whether Biden will have the time and attention span for such a discussion.
  • However, the current crisis could help Bennett accomplish his goals of “resetting” the U.S.-Israel relationship and developing a relationship with Biden. Amid the current turmoil, Biden can use any support he can get.

What’s next: Bennett had to postpone his flight back to Israel, but won't travel on the Jewish Sabbath. That means he will fly back to Israel on Saturday evening.

Go deeper

Oct 15, 2021 - Axios Tampa Bay

Last meal with Rachel Bennett

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Rachel Bennett

Rachel Bennett is a meat and potatoes kind of person. But like, REALLY good meat and potatoes.

The executive chef at The Library in St. Pete, a 2019 James Beard award semifinalist and finalist on "Guy's Grocery Games" was born and raised in Tampa and got her start in Hillsborough Community College's culinary program.

Kenyan president visits White House amid corruption claims

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta visits the White House in 2014. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

President Biden will announce Thursday during a visit by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to the White House that the U.S. will donate an additional 17 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the African Union.

Why it matters: Biden is belatedly seeking to bolster U.S. engagement with the region, which has been a low priority as the administration goes all in on countering China in the Indo-Pacific. But Biden's choice for the first African leader to visit his White House has raised some eyebrows.

Mike Allen, author of AM
19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

GOP senator calls for senility test for aging leaders

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a physician, told me during an "Axios on HBO" interview that he favors cognition tests for aging leaders of all three branches of government.

Why it matters: Wisdom comes with age. But science also shows that we lose something. And much of the world is now run by old people — including President Biden, 78 ... Speaker Pelosi, 81 ...  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, 70 ... and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 79.