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.