Netanyahu and Biden
Netanyahu and BidenAvi Ohayon/GPO

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, known for his close ties to US President Joe Biden, published an op-ed on Saturday following Biden’s meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York this past week.

Friedman asserted that, while appearing friendly toward Netanyahu, the President had "privately slip[ped] a homework assignment into Bibi's pocket."

This assignment, according to Friedman, was for Netanyahu to decide whether to dismantle his coalition, or miss out on the chance to achieve normalization with Saudi Arabia.

“It was a master class in how a US president puts a fateful decision to an Israeli leader — one that poses to that Israeli leader the most excruciating challenge of his political career. That is: either blow up the extremist cabinet you’ve built to keep yourself out of jail — and replace it with a national unity coalition — or blow up the chance for peace with Saudi Arabia, which could pave the way for Israel’s acceptance across the whole Muslim world,” wrote Friedman.

Among the conditions Netanyahu would have accept in exchange for normalization with Saudi Arabia, as outlined in the article, would be curbing Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, improving living and travel conditions for Palestinian Arabs there, advancing Palestinian Arab administration over more of their populated areas in accordance with the Oslo Accords and in essence agreeing to steps on the ground that preserve the option of a two-state solution.

Earlier this month, Friedman wrote a column which he urged the US and Saudi Arabia not to go through with a deal to normalize Saudi-Israeli relations, claiming that Netanyahu’s government “is not normal”.

Friedman’s pieces are known at times to reflect the opinion of President Biden. Several months ago, he published an article in which he provided very direct details in a conversation between Biden and Netanyahu, during which Biden urged the Prime Minister not to rush to promote his government’s judicial reform without broad consensus.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby later confirmed to Israel’s Channel 12 News that Friedman's column was accurate and was an accurate reflection of "where the President's head is."

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Yom Kippur in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)