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.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

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


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy