When It Comes to Israel, the Biden Administration Won’t Make Things Much Worse—or Much Better

Surveying the history of Democratic administrations’ relationships with Israel—from Harry Truman supporting Israel’s creation over the vociferous objections of his trusted secretary of state, George Marshall, to Lyndon Johnson calling two Jewish advisers “Zionist dupes” (but thereafter giving crucial support to Jerusalem in the wake of the Six-Day War), to Barack Obama’s policy of creating “daylight”—Tevi Troy finds a decidedly mixed record. He then engages in some informed speculation about what sorts of policies Joe Biden will bring to Washington:

[I]t is very likely that the Biden administration will put more rhetorical pressure on Israel to strike a deal with the Palestinians. It’s not clear, however, what policy leverage the U.S. has to push Israel in this regard while the Middle East landscape is changing—or whether the Palestinians will even consider some kind of a deal in any case. Still, Biden could, as Obama did, support UN resolutions critical of Israel. He could also sternly lecture Israeli officials, as he has intermittently throughout his career. Biden is on the record unambiguously about restoring the U.S.–Iran nuclear deal.

Looking at all of this, one can discern the outlines of a policy framework toward Israel—call it Bidenism. It will be supportive of continued aid to Israel and unlikely to question publicly the wisdom of such aid. Rhetorically, Biden will repeatedly present himself as a friend of Israel and of Prime Minister Netanyahu, even as he questions whether Netanyahu is too far to the right and as he exerts private pressure for concessions with the Palestinians.

Bidenism will seek a return to the problematic Iran deal in some form but will continue to profess its concerns about Iran getting nuclear weapons and will be unlikely to try to stop Israel from allying with Sunni Gulf states as a counterweight to Iran. Bidenism will not seek to move the U.S. embassy from Jerusalem—but it won’t encourage other nations to move their embassies from Tel Aviv. And Bidenism will likely be muddled when it comes to the woke left’s intersectional hostility toward Israel—willing to condemn certain outrageous and anti-Semitic statements but ever careful not to offend and, on occasion, will even apologize if its condemnations produce too much blowback.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Democrats, Harry Truman, Joseph Biden, US-Israel relations

 

Europe-Israel Relations Have Been Transformed

On Monday, Israel and the EU held their first “association council” meeting since 2012, resuming what was once an annual event, equivalent to the meetings Brussels conducts with many other countries. Although the summit didn’t produce any major agreements or diplomatic breakthroughs, writes Shany Mor, it is a sign of a dramatic change that has occurred over the past decade. The very fact that the discussion focused on energy, counterterrorism, military technology, and the situation in Ukraine—rather than on the Israel-Palestinian conflict—is evidence of this change:

Israel is no longer the isolated and boycotted outpost in the Middle East that it was for most of its history. It has peace treaties with six Arab states now, four of which were signed since the last association council meeting. There are direct flights from Tel Aviv to major cities in the region and a burgeoning trade between Israel and Gulf monarchies, including those without official relations.

It is a player in the regional alliance systems of both the Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean, just as it has also become a net energy exporter due to the discovery of large gas deposits of its shoreline. None of this was the case at the last council meeting in 2012. [Moreover], Israel has cultivated deep ties with a number of new member states in the EU from Central and Eastern Europe, whose presence in Brussels bridges cultural ideological gaps that were once much wider.

Beyond the diplomatic shifts, however, is an even larger change that has happened in European-Israeli relations. The tiny Israel defined by its conflict with the Arabs that Europeans once knew is no more. When the first Cooperation Agreement [between Israel and the EU’s precursor] was signed in 1975, Israel, with its three million people, was smaller than all the European member states save Luxembourg. Sometime in the next two years, the Israeli population will cross the 10 million mark, making it significantly larger than Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and Austria (among others), and roughly equal in population to Greece, Portugal, and Sweden.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Abraham Accords, Europe and Israel, European Union, Israeli gas