The Biden Administration Scolds Israel
Like a parent laying down the law to an unruly child, this past week, the Biden Administration scolded Israel. The American president continued a pattern of discourtesy toward Israel by issuing a particularly pointed warning to the Jewish state not to use its military to impact the Iranian nuclear situation.
Having scornfully disregarded a whole bevy of concerns raised by Israel regarding a rush to renew the Iran nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the Biden foreign policy team expressed its unhappiness with comments coming from Israeli political leaders and its military establishment to the effect that under no circumstances should Iran be allowed to go nuclear. Israel has made it clear that, if push comes to shove, it will use force to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon.
From the outset, the Biden Administration has deliberately snubbed Israel. It is no secret that there is a strong anti-Israel element active in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Publicly putting the Jewish state in its place satisfies Biden’s left-wing anti-Israel supporters and many in the mainstream media as well as Biden’s new anti-Israel friends in Europe. A win-win situation.
This past week, in language more appropriate to dressing down a vassal state than its oldest most durable Middle East ally, the Biden Administration told the Israelis in no uncertain terms: Don’t get in the way of US policy and our policy goal is to rekindle a relationship with Iran and to renew the JCPOA, whether you like it or not.
A document titled “Interim National Security Guidelines” warned Israel: “Our partners in the Middle East [do not have] a blank check to pursue policies at odds with American interests and values.” It was published as Israel has increasingly spoken of the possibility that it might have to use force to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Ideological interests that dominate the Democratic Party, rather than common sense, drive the Biden Administration Middle East policy. Biden inherited the Abraham Accords, which brought the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain together with Israel. The question of the Palestinians has become uncoupled. The Palestinians are no longer the central focus of the peace process or of economic progress or reciprocity going forward. The Palestine question is no longer vital but just one of many.
With the tacit approval of Saudi Arabia, Sunni Arab states, in conjunction with Israel, were now allied in opposing Iran and her Shiite satellites. Iran’s capacity to threaten and dominate the region was thwarted if not deterred. At the same time, Iran was suffering considerable distress as a consequence of the forceful sanctions campaign hampering its economy, which had the effect of blunting the Iranian nuclear program.
That was the status quo as Biden took office and Israel hoped that, beginning with the Abraham Accords, the Biden Administration would see this new dynamic in the Middle East and grasp its vital importance. But far from seizing the strategic initiative presented by the accords – or heeding warnings from Israel and the Gulf states about Iran’s intentions – the new administration has unfortunately soft-pedaled the accords and shown little interest in listening to advice about Iran.
Driven by the popular left-wing, progressive ideology of the Democratic Party, Biden promises to return to the Iran deal and to bring the Palestinians back to negotiations with a two-state goal. To prove to Iran how anxious Biden is to make a deal, the US administration immediately slammed Saudi Arabia hard over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
As with longtime American ally Israel, the Biden Administration has also treated Saudi Arabia with disdain. But while sound political judgment and common sense say this is a bad idea, for Biden and his administration, progressive ideology seemingly trumps common sense.
And so with an eye toward punishing the Saudis and, at the same time showing Iran how friendly he can be, President Biden removed the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen from the list of designated terrorist organizations. This ill-considered move immediately backfired. Houthi militants launched missile attacks on airports and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia within hours.
The Biden Administration does not have much respect for Israel. Despite the occasional token outreach, one suspects the cold shoulder will continue. The ideological Left bears a genuine antipathy for the Jewish state and many in the Biden foreign policy contingent seem to think America’s friends in the Middle East are the problem. Ignoring the promise of the Abraham Accords, driven by ideology, and casting aside common sense, they are intent on empowering Iran and pushing a failed two-state idea.