How the Biden Administration Might Restore Bipartisan Support for Israel

November 11, 2020 | Joshua Muravchik
About the author: Joshua Muravchik is the author most recently of Heaven on Earth: The Rise, Fall, and Afterlife of Socialism (Encounter).

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 on Fathom: