How the Biden Administration Might Restore Bipartisan Support for Israel

Examining the president-elect’s record on Middle East policy, Joshua Muravchik is cautiously optimistic about what the next four years might have in store for Israel:

Joe Biden can be expected to reverse a few of President Trump’s policies. He pledged to reopen the U.S. consulate in eastern Jerusalem, a de-facto embassy to the Palestinians; to allow the Palestine Liberation Organization to reopen its Washington office, which Trump had shut down; and to restore various aid programs to the Palestinians. But on the more important matters of [the American embassy in] Jerusalem and [recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the] Golan Heights, Biden’s camp indicates he will preserve Trump’s actions, thus giving them a bipartisan imprimatur that will prevent later reversal.

And, too, Biden is committed to the process of “normalization” between the Arab states and Israel that Trump, in what may stand as his sole diplomatic triumph, facilitated. [As many as] four other Arab states might follow the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan in recognizing Israel, and the Biden administration will undoubtedly encourage this.

That leaves one issue as a likely source of friction between the Biden administration and Israel, and it is a big one: Iran’s nuclear program. . . . Biden has said he seeks to “rejoin the [2015 nuclear] agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations . . . to strengthen and extend it.” He also pledges to “push back against Iran’s destabilizing activities, which threaten our friends and partners in the region.”

President Obama, with his extended letter-writing to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his . . . refusal to support rhetorically the millions of peaceful Iranians who nearly toppled the regime in 2009, harbored some odd delusion . . . of a transcendent reconciliation. Biden, despite his strong commitment to the 2015 deal, entertains no such illusion. Thus, the differences between Washington and Jerusalem, with the Sunni Arab states on its side, might be narrowed to manageable proportions.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Abraham Accords, Donald Trump, Iran nuclear program, Joseph Biden, PLO, US-Israel relations

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security