White House officials vowed that President Biden will not shake hands with anyone during his trip to the Middle East.
However, the promise only lasted for some minutes. Biden ended up shaking hands with former Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and two Holocaust survivors.
Biden Broke His Promise Right After Making it
Reportedly, Biden made this anti-hand-shake policy to avoid the embarrassment of shaking hands with Saudi dictators when he flies to the kingdom this Friday.
When Biden landed in Israel, a whole row of Israeli officials offered open palms to the president. However, Biden extended fist bumps and shoulder pats to the leaders who were standing along the red carpet to receive him.
This effort of the president to reduce physical contact, in the wake of rising COVID cases, during his trip was just a symbolic attempt anyway. He was continuously shaking hands in the US in different meetings ahead of his Middle East trip.
This White House –
“Biden will not shake hands in the Middle East”. First thing he does is shake someone’s hand. Can’t make it up!
— Gavin Spencer (@RealGavinS) July 13, 2022
On Monday, Biden shook hands with numerous lawmakers who were present at a White House event for the celebration of the bipartisan gun law.
Similarly, the president also shook hands with lawmakers at the congressional picnic on Tuesday. Though Sullivan insisted this abrupt change in handshake policy “is not abnormal,” as these types of precautions are usually taken on overseas trips.
US President Joe Biden walks straight to Binyamin Netanyahu, gives him a firm hand shake & says “You know I love you”
Then passes by Bennet & Lapid without shaking their hands.. Epic! 🙌🏽🇮🇱🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/R4TeHggDHL
— Mark Halawa مارك حلاوه (@HalawaMark) July 14, 2022
Biden Wants to Avoid Embarrassment of Handshake With Dictators
Many analysts suggest this change in policy was to keep Biden from shaking hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS). He has previously been labeled as a “pariah” by Biden during his presidential campaign.
One reporter asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre if the hand-shake policy is made to avoid the media firestorm which may arise after Biden’s meeting with MBS. Jean-Pierre dismissed this notion.
The press secretary noted the president is trying to “minimize contact as much as possible” during his trip, due to the rising concerns about the BA.4 and BA.5 variant of the coronavirus.
Jean-Pierre further asserted the policy is made on the recommendations of Biden’s doctor to keep him and everyone around him safe.
As per the data of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the BA.5 variant is gaining ground in the United States at the moment. Health experts have already warned about rising hospitalizations, due to this variant in the upcoming days.
After shaking hands with Netanyahu, Biden again violated his promise during his meeting with Holocaust survivors.
When the president was visiting Israel’s Holocaust memorial site Yad Vashem, Biden shook hands with two Holocaust survivors: Rena Quint, 86, and Gital Cycowicz, 95.
Biden kept on holding their hands for a relatively longer time than the normal handshakes. Later on, Quint said the president even “asked permission to kiss me,” while they were initially told not to touch the president.