President Biden’s meeting on Thursday with Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Israeli prime minister, is the latest installment in an often fraught relationship stretching back four decades.
The two men first had regular contact in the 1980s, when Mr. Biden was a senator and Mr. Netanyahu was the deputy Israeli ambassador to Washington. Mr. Biden has often spoken fondly of Mr. Netanyahu since then, despite their political differences, and once described giving him a photo with a warm caption: “Bibi, I don’t fucking agree with what you’re saying, but I love you. †
After Netanyahu returned to Israel, became prime minister in 1996 and lost office three years later, he said Mr Biden was the only American politician to write him a letter after his election defeat. During moments of heightened friction between Mr. Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, Mr. Biden was often deployed to ease tensions.
Relations between Mr Biden and Mr Netanyahu have nevertheless had their lows. Politically, the two men have different views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr Biden supports the creation of a Palestinian state as a solution to the conflict, while Mr Netanyahu has become increasingly open about his opposition to full Palestinian sovereignty.
In 2010, Netanyahu’s administration embarrassed Mr. Biden while he was visiting Israel — announcing the construction of new settlements in East Jerusalem, a move that hampered the Obama administration’s attempts to resume peace talks.
In 2015, Mr. Biden declined to attend a speech Mr. Netanyahu gave in Congress after the Israeli leader accepted an invitation from House Speaker John A. Boehner, a Republican, without informing the White House. to set. Mr Biden’s speech and non-appearance exacerbated a dispute between Mr Netanyahu and the Obama administration over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.
After Mr. Biden was elected president in 2020, Mr. Netanyahu took several hours to congratulate him — perhaps afraid, analysts said, to anger President Donald J. Trump, with whom he had developed strong ties.
After taking office, Mr. Biden answered the punch, and it took several weeks to call Mr. Netanyahu. But they spoke several times during last year’s Gaza war, before Netanyahu himself left the government a month later.
Mr. Biden’s meeting with Mr. Netanyahu on Thursday is more than just a courtesy: Israel will hold snap elections in November — the fifth in less than four years — and it is possible that Mr. Netanyahu, who leads in polls to return to power soon.
After Mr Biden arrived in the country on Wednesday, he and Mr Netanyahu greeted each other with a particularly long and firm jolt, despite their previous disagreements.
Their meeting takes place while Netanyahu is in the middle of two lawsuits. In one, he faces corruption charges. In the other, he and his family are suing his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, and accusing him of libel after he described the Netanyahus as “mentally ill.”