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

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

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy