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Biden delivers remarks on Afghanistan. Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's first visit to the White House will come with President Biden attempting to manage the worst foreign policy crisis of his presidency.

Why it matters: Bennett will visit next Thursday, the White House confirmed, which will likely make him the first world leader to meet Biden during his "Saigon moment."

  • Israeli and U.S. officials initially tried to schedule the visit for July, but it was shifted to August due to Biden's schedule, Bennett's domestic political difficulties and rising COVID-19 cases.

Behind the scenes: Israeli officials are very concerned by the message the Afghanistan crisis sends about U.S. engagement in the broader region.

  • While the Israeli government has been careful not to criticize the Biden administration in public, privately, several senior Israeli officials have told me they were stunned by what they saw as a major U.S. intelligence failure.

What they're saying: Israeli officials hope the Afghanistan crisis will make the Biden administration rethink potentially pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq and Syria.

  • Two Israeli officials who requested anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivities expressed the same sentiment: “The U.S. wants to disengage from the Middle East but finds out the Middle East is running after it."
  • Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz raised concerns about further U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East during an Aug. 6 phone call with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, in which the Afghanistan pullout was briefly discussed, an Israeli official says.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has openly criticized Biden's Afghanistan policy, writing on Facebook that in 2013, then-Secretary of State John Kerry invited him for a secret trip to Afghanistan to see how the U.S. has built the Afghan army to fight terrorism.

  • “The message was clear — the U.S. wanted to implement the Afghanistan model in the Palestinian file too," Netanyahu said, claiming he knew then that Afghanistan would collapse if the U.S. pulled out.

What’s next: Israeli officials hope the Afghanistan crisis won't totally overshadow the Bennett-Biden meeting, which they see as very important to establish a fresh state in U.S.-Israel relations after 12 years under Netanyahu.

  • The Israeli government thinks the Biden administration realizes it will need to rebuild its credibility in the region. Israeli officials hope to discuss potential steps to do so with the Biden administration.
  • Bennett said at a press conference on Wednesday that Iran will be the focus of his meeting with Biden. “We finished a policy review on Iran and we are coming with an approach of a partnership that is aimed at countering Iran’s regional activity and preventing it from breaking out to a nuclear weapon," he said.
  • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the leaders would discuss Iran, regional security and efforts to "advance peace, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians."

Go deeper

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.

Oct 14, 2021 - World

Taliban press Biden to release frozen Afghan assets as economy shrivels

Afghans wait outside a bank in hopes of withdrawing cash, watched by a Taliban fighter. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty

With the Afghan government and economy starved of cash, the Taliban are pressing their claim to the roughly $8 billion in Afghan foreign reserves that have been frozen by the U.S.

Why it matters: Afghanistan is barreling into a humanitarian crisis, and donor countries and international institutions have cut off the aid that accounted for some 75% of the previous government’s budget.

Updated 6 mins ago - World

Mapping repression in China's Xinjiang region

Data: © Mapbox, © OpenStreetMap; Map: Will Chase/Axios

A sweeping new report released today by an Australian research organization reveals new details about how the Chinese Communist Party — and specifically who within the party — is carrying out its campaign of repression in Xinjiang.

Why it matters: Uncovering the actual offices and individuals implementing the Chinese government's genocide and forced labor policies in Xinjiang can bring accountability and help international companies delink supply chains in compliance with U.S. and EU forced labor laws.