The Independent / December 14, 2020
Israeli and US leaders have been extremely close allies
Previously, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Twitter profile banner picture featured him sitting next to Mr Trump during a meeting at the White House.
The image underscored the importance of Israel’s relationship with the US, as well as Mr Netanyahu’s cosy relationship with the outgoing American president.
The quiet swap in photo was first spotted by Jacob Kornbluh, national politics reporter for New-York-based newspaper, the Jewish Insider.
He posted a side-by-side comparison of Mr Netanyahu’s profile over the weekend, when many Jewish people celebrated Hanukkah, prompting many to speculate that it may be a temporary change in aesthetics for the religious holiday.
It remains to be seen if the Israeli prime minister will switch back to a photo of him and Mr Trump as he seeks to secure last-minute policy deals from the president before 20 January – when president-elect Joe Biden will be sworn into the White House.
Mr Netanyahu and Mr Trump are reportedly in discussions over a new round of sanctions on Iran, with the former concerned over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
According to Foreign Policy, the Trump administration could also help Israel broker a new diplomatic deal with Saudi Arabia, who in November condemned an Israeli decision to build new illegal settlement units in East Jerusalem.
East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, are Palestinian territories that Israel has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
However, there are some signs that Mr Trump’s relationship with Mr Netanyahu is turning a corner, most notably in October, when the president’s attempt to secure an election endorsement from “Bibi” backfired during a photo op.
During the signing of a peace deal between Israel and Sudan, brokered by the US, Mr Trump asked Mr Netanyahu on speakerphone is “Sleepy Joe” could have secured the deal.
“Do you think ‘Sleepy Joe’ could have made this deal, Bibi? Sleepy Joe? Do you think he would have made this deal? Somehow, I don’t think so,” asked the president.
But Mr Netanyahu took a cautious, diplomatic approach, replying: “Uh, well, Mr President, one thing I can tell you is that we appreciate the help for peace from anyone in America. And we appreciate what you have done enormously.”
Kate Ng is a journalist, based in London