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.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Democrats, Harry Truman, Joseph Biden, 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