Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to jab President Joe Biden over an ultimately disproven claim that the U.S. leader fell asleep during a meeting with current Israeli PM Naftali Bennett late last month.
Netanyahu, leader of the opposition Likud Party, was likely referencing a video clip that went viral in late August in which Biden bowed his head for several moments during his meeting with Bennett, suggesting to some that he dozed off momentarily.
“Joe Biden appears to have fallen asleep during a meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel,” safety advocate JT Lewis, founder of Newtown Helps Rwanda, tweeted at the time.
Several people, including some Republican lawmakers, responded to the claim as well, ripping the president and even calling on him to resign.
But a fact-check by CNN and other news organizations corrected the record, noting that Biden was not asleep and that he was moving his hands and responding to Bennett.
“This ‘Biden asleep’ stuff is nonsense. Full vid … shows: 1) Biden talking; 2) Biden looking at Bennett; 3) Biden looking downward, his hands moving, starting right when Bennett mentioned this week’s ‘difficult days’; 4) Biden immediately replying to Bennett,” CNN’s Daniel Dale noted.
“Misleading. A clip saying Joe Biden fell asleep while in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been misleadingly cropped. Longer versions show Biden continues the conversation right after this moment,” a fact-check by Reuters added.
Nevertheless, Netanyahu appeared to reference the debunked clip in a Facebook Live video on Sunday.
During the former PM’s video, a voice off-camera remarks to him, “You know, Bennett met with Biden.”
In FB Live, Netanyahu mocked Biden’s physical appearance during Oval Office meeting with Bennett: “I heard Biden was very attentive to what Bennett had to say… He dropped his head in agreement.” pic.twitter.com/xIIxU6PUyt
— Jacob Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) September 19, 2021
“I heard. I heard that Biden was very attentive at this meeting. He dropped his head in agreement,” said Netanyahu, who dropped his head quickly as if to mimic nodding off to sleep.
Leaders from Likud came out in defense of the former PM, saying that in fact, he was mocking Bennett, not the U.S. president.
“In contrast to the distorted picture that was broadcast in the media, former prime minister Netanyahu wasn’t criticizing President Biden whom he’s known and considered a friend of Israel for 40 years,” the party said on Twitter, according to the Daily Mail. “His criticism was aimed only at Naftali Bennett who, during his visit at the White House, spoke at length about nothing.”
During their August meeting, Biden and Bennett discussed a range of topics facing the Middle East, especially Iran, which is an archenemy of the Jewish state.
“The President expressed his full support for strong and expanding relations among Israel, its Arab neighbors, and Muslim states globally. The two leaders noted that Israel’s historic partnerships with Egypt and Jordan remain crucial to regional stability,” a White House readout of the meeting said.
“They discussed ways to further deepen Israel’s relationships with Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates, and their goal of identifying new opportunities to expand such partnerships,” it added.
Netanyahu was removed by a coalition of left-wing, centrist, right-wing, and Arab leaders in Israel’s parliament earlier this year after serving as PM for 12 years, becoming the country’s longest-serving leader. He was a staunch ally and supporter of former President Donald Trump.
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