What Was Gained from Joe Biden’s Visit to Israel

At a three-week remove from the president’s trip to the Middle East, Yossi Kuperwasser observes what he sees as evidence of a change in direction for the better in Washington’s approach to the region:

[T]he visit reflected the complex process of American recognition of the new reality created by the war in Ukraine and the failure to return to the agreement with Iran. This reality is forcing the Biden administration to come to terms, slowly and reluctantly, with the fact that the same forces that threaten the world order and the rules on which it is based—that is Russia, China, and Iran—are also the ones that threaten the regional order in the Middle East and threaten vital American interests there. Therefore, the situation requires cooperation with the parties that oppose these destabilizing forces.

During the visit, President Biden repeatedly pointed out that the return of the United States to the region is necessary to prevent the creation of a vacuum that Russia and China will fill, implicitly through their cooperation with Iran.

For its part, Israel tried to garner the Biden administration’s good will with benevolent gestures toward the Palestinians ahead of his arrival. Kuperwasser believes that in doing so, Jerusalem played its hand poorly:

Israel is taking security risks by allowing Palestinian construction in sensitive areas and making 4G technology available to Palestinian cellular communications to please the U.S. administration. In turn, these steps may give the Palestinian side the feeling that their continued resistance and intransigence are paying off. Their evidence: the Israelis and the Americans tolerate the heinous Palestinian practice of paying salaries to terrorists and perpetuate the refugee problem through continued aid to UNRWA, even though the organization continues to incite Palestinian youth against Israel through its school curricula.

Once again, the Palestinians’ role in perpetuating the conflict and the struggle against Zionism are being ignored. [The Israeli prime minister] Yair Lapid missed an opportunity to stress Palestinian responsibility for the impasse when he was asked at the joint press conference about his position on the two-state solution. Instead of . . . emphasizing the security needs of the state of Israel, Lapid satisfied himself with a short answer in which he expressed support in principle for the two-state solution.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Joseph Biden, Middle East, Palestinian Authority, US-Israel relations

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship