No, the U.S.-Israel Alliance Isn’t on the Brink of Disaster

Nov. 22 2022

With Benjamin Netanyahu returning to Balfour Street and a Democrat in the White House, writes Herb Keinon, we can expect to read “story after story about how U.S.-Israel relations are deteriorating and entering crisis mode.” But Keinon urges caution:

First, Joe Biden is not Barack Obama, and his feelings for Israel are deeper and more heartfelt than Obama’s ever were. Further, he does have a personal chemistry with Netanyahu that Netanyahu never shared with Obama. Secondly, two of the major sources of friction between Israel and the U.S. that existed during the Netanyahu-Obama years are not immediately on the agenda: Iran and the Palestinian issue.

While Biden’s team seemed hell-bent in the late summer to re-enter the nuclear deal with Iran, efforts to that effect later stalled and the negotiations broke down. Nevertheless, there was an expectation that—with the administration keen on finalizing a deal—the negotiations would resume after the midterm elections. But now the midterms are over, and much has transpired in the interim to render overwrought concern that Washington is on the verge of a new deal with Iran.

The same is true of the Palestinian issue. Biden is the first president in recent memory who has not put brokering an Israel-Palestinian deal at the top of his agenda.

While there is unlikely to be friction over the marquee issues, there will be constant friction over settlement building—as there has been for the last 50 years—and instances where Israel uses force that Washington will deem “disproportionate.” And each time this friction will come to the fore, there will be dire warnings in some quarters about a crisis in ties and the inevitability of a breakdown in the U.S.-Israel relationship. But all this should be taken with a grain of salt. Not every dispute, nor even every public slap on the wrist, presages a crisis.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy