President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally spoke on the phone for the first time since Biden's inauguration late Wednesday. However, sources say that the delay in the call may have been the result of a Lincoln Project political tactic.
The delay in Biden calling Netanyahu caused many to speculate that the President was distancing himself from the Israeli leader, possibly due to the Prime Minister’s tense relationship with former US President Barack Obama, and his very friendly relationship with President Donald Trump.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was forced to address the delay, following public pressure and dodging a question on Israel's status as an "important ally" of the US.
Gideon Sa'ar who left the Likud party to form the New Hope Party and run against Netanyahu, hired Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson, Stuart Stevens and Reed Galen, four of the founders of the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump Super PAC.
According to sources, the delay in the call was an attempt to make Netanyahu look weak in the lead-up to the Israeli elections in March.
New Hope has claimed it never worked directly with the Lincoln Project or Weaver, and only engaged the four consultants. "Due to financial considerations, the contract with the consultants is under review, and in the coming days, we will examine the possibility of further cooperation," the party said.
On Tuesday, the Jerusalem Post reported that "Gideon Sa'ar will no longer work with his American advisers who are being accused of covering up a sexual harassment scandal involving Lincoln Project co-founder John Weaver and pocketing millions raised by their political action committee."
The day after the announcement of cutting ties with the Lincoln Project advisors, President Biden called Prime Minister Netanyahu.
The alleged involvement in delaying the call by the members of the Lincoln Project could be a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) which requires "certain agents of foreign principals who are engaged in political activities or other activities specified under the statute to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities."
The Obama administration was revealed to have interfered in a previous Israeli election in an attempt to unseat Netanyahu. According to the Washington Times, the State Department paid $350,000 to OneVoice, to support the group's efforts to back Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement negotiations. "But OneVoice used the money to build a voter database, train activists and hire a political consulting firm with ties to President Obama’s campaign."
Schmidt, announced last week that he was resigning from the group's board following a series of scandals ravaged the organization including the revelation that co-founder John Weaver was sending sexually explicit messages to men as young as 14 offering them jobs in exchange for sexual favors.
Wilson claimed he was "shocked" by the allegations against Weaver even though multiple people, including members of the group, have stated that the behavior of Weaver was known by many in the organization for some time.
The four consultants were widely criticized for not understanding Israeli politics. Schmidt, in an interview with MSNBC in May 2018, said regarding the Trump administration's move of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem"
"(Trump) knows nothing about anything. He's bumbling around and he destabilized with his rash move the Middle East, and as I said when he announced the move to the embassy … there will be blood on his hands. Not because he pulled the trigger, but because he destabilized the region without having any clue about what he was doing."
Wilson and Stevens objected to the Jan. 3, 2020 targeted assassination by the US of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Stevens criticized the Israeli government's decision to deny entry into the country of US Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN). According to the Jewish News Syndicate, "The two congresswomen were slated to participate in a tour sponsored by the Palestinian NGO Miftah, which has a public record of openly expressing anti-Semitism, supporting the BDS movement and fostering sympathy for and links to terrorist groups."
Stevens also attacked former President Donald Trump's "Peace to Prosperity" plan, which resulted in the Abraham Accords which included multiple Middle East peace deals between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
All of the aforementioned policies were widely supported in Israel.