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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett became the first Israeli prime minister in 11 years to pay an official visit to an Egyptian president on Monday, meeting Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the coastal resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Why it matters: This was an effort by Sisi to establish good relations with the new Israeli government, and the Egyptians made every effort to give Bennett an unusually warm and public welcome.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is expected to travel to Egypt next week for the first public visit by an Israeli prime minister in over a decade.
The big picture: Israel officials speculate that by inviting Bennett publicly so early in his term, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government is trying to signal Egypt's importance in the region to the Biden administration.
Bennett left Washington with a notable "deliverable": Biden had promised to work toward bringing Israel into the U.S. visa waiver program.
Why it matters: Admission to the program has been an Israeli aspiration for decades. The issue resonates with many Israelis who may have family, friends or business connections in the U.S. but are intimidated by the visa process or put off by the costs.
President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during their White House meeting that he will not abandon his plan to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, setting up a major point of contention between the administrations.
Why it matters: The consulate handled relations with the Palestinians for 25 years before being shut down by Donald Trump. Senior officials in Bennett's government see the consulate issue as a political hot potato that could destabilize their unwieldy coalition.
With the manhunt for six Palestinian prisoners who tunneled their way out of an Israeli maximum-security prison continuing for the third day, riots have been reported at three additional prisons.
Why it matters: The “Shawshank Redemption” style escape turned the six prisoners into heroes in the West Bank and Gaza, with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza threatening an escalation if they are harmed. Thousands of police and Israel Defense Forces soldiers are searching for them.
Six Palestinian prisoners — four of whom were serving life sentences — escaped from a high-security Israeli prison through an underground tunnel, launching a massive manhunt in the country just ahead of the Jewish new year.
Driving the news: Five of the six escapees were affiliated with the Islamic Jihad movement, and one was Zakaria Zubeidi, a prominent figure with the Fatah organization. Israeli officials said the prison break was a big failure of the prison authorities on the highest levels and are fearful of attacks or copycat prison breaks.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett assured the leaders of U.S Jewish organizations on Friday that he would take steps to reduce the conflict with the Palestinians.
Why it matters: Bennett holds hardline positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and opposes the two-state solution, but he also wants to show that he can make progress on the issue even without any political breakthrough.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had prepared for wide-ranging discussions on China with President Biden and other senior U.S. officials, but the issue hardly came up, an Israeli official who attended the Biden-Bennett meeting tells me.
Why it matters: Chinese involvement in Israel became a rare point of contention between the Trump and Netanyahu governments, with the Trump administration warning of damage to the U.S.-Israel security relationship, but former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dragging his feet on the issue.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz's trip to Ramallah on Sunday to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — the first such visit by an Israeli Cabinet member in 12 years — ultimately proved how politically sensitive any steps to improve relations with the Palestinians can be in Israel.
Why it matters: Relations with the Palestinian Authority were frozen almost entirely under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Gantz's visit was months in the making and was approved by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, but ended up causing tensions within the government.
President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reaffirmed the strategic understandings between the U.S. and Israel regarding Israel’s alleged undeclared military nuclear program during Bennett's White House visit, a senior Israeli official briefed on the meeting tells me.
The big picture: This has become a ritual for every U.S. president since Richard Nixon in their first meeting with the Israeli prime minister.