Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent about $5,200 on a 2011 breakfast date with Robert Gates, who was the U.S. defense secretary at the time. Roughly 20 people sat down for the meal in the Israeli seaside town of Caesarea, meaning the bill came to about $260 per person. It was not immediately clear what the world leaders ate or why the bill for the most important, but usually the cheapest, meal of the day ran so high, Haaretz reported late Monday.
Perhaps Netanyahu was trying to win over Gates with some fancy food. The men held poor relations while Gates served as deputy national security advisor under President George H.W. Bush and spared over Netanyahu’s conservative policies toward Iran and the Palestinians in more recent years.
The meal came on the same day Gates met with the Palestinian Authority's Salam Fayyad in Ramallah and with King Abdullah in Ammannd. Among the others who sat down to break bread with Gates and Netanyahu were Gates’ then assistant for international security affairs Alexander Vershbow and U.S. Ambassador to Israel James Cunningham. “This was a work meeting between the prime minister and the defense secretary of the world’s biggest superpower. That is no time for stinginess,” Haaretz wrote.
Apparently the diplomatic move didn’t work. Only a few months after the March 2011 breakfast, U.S. media outlets were reporting that Gates had filled President Barack Obama’s ear with bad words about Netanyahu. “Gates argued to the president directly that Netanyahu is not only ungrateful, but also endangering his country by refusing to grapple with Israel's growing isolation and with the demographic challenges it faces if it keeps control of the West Bank,” The Atlantic reported.
Netanyahu is expected to address Congress on March 3 ahead of Israel’s March 17 election. He was invited by House Speaker John Boehner without approval from the White House. Many critics have called the speech an election ploy and a breach of international protocol. Some Democratic lawmakers have vowed to boycott the appearance.