So Complicated for Biden The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so difficult
President Joe Biden and his top advisors are managing the recent spike in violence in Israel as well as a difficult diplomatic situation, like any other Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the past.
- Ties between Biden and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, who have been friends for decades, have been strained; • A volatile political atmosphere among the Palestinians will make it Israeli-Palestinian conflict difficult for American officials to designate a reliable negotiating partner.
- In the US, a Republican presidential primary campaign that is already well-started would undoubtedly charge Biden with encouraging attacks toward Israel because of his most recent deal with Iran. A historic normalization pact between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which Biden believed was nearing completion, is also looming in the distance.
All of this adds up to one of the most dangerous geopolitical situations of Biden’s presidency, which is also dealing with a war in Ukraine that has evolved into an explosive domestic political issue.
Biden said to Netanyahu over the phone on Saturday: “We stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the government and people of Israel.”
The use of terror is never acceptable. Israel has the right to protect its citizens and the state. The United States issues an alert against any other anti-Israel party trying to gain an edge in this situation. And the support of my Administration for Israel’s security is steadfast and unshakable,” Biden said in a statement following the meeting.
Biden and senior American officials were instrumental in brokering a ceasefire the last time significant violence erupted between Gaza and Israel. The president had six conversations with Netanyahu and one each with Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, who has little real power over Gaza, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the president of Egypt.
Also, US diplomats were in contact with regional leaders and utilized the leaders of Egypt and Qatar to negotiate a ceasefire with the Palestinian militant groups that controlled Gaza.
Democrats who were associated with the president pushed for a stronger reaction. But senior White House officials decided that working quietly with allies to stop the violence would be more efficient.
It has been over two years since then. Since then, relations between the US and Israeli-Palestinian conflict have become a lot more difficult.
Biden is strongly against the Netanyahu administration’s efforts to reorganize the judiciary, which he and other officials have said will damage democracy. This restricted their relationship and prohibited them from meeting in person until last month when they had a conversation during the UN General Assembly in New York. At the time, Biden accepted that the two men needed to talk about many “hard issues,” including those involving “checks and balances.”
The final results of that meeting were “very constructive” and “very candid,” based on one official. Without any advisers present, it featured a protracted one-on-one portion, and Biden extended an invitation to Netanyahu to visit the White House.
However, as he faces pressure for a comprehensive response, Netanyahu’s attempts to maintain the unity of his far-right governing coalition may make American diplomatic engagement in the situation much more difficult.
A diplomatic response from the United States has only been made more Israeli-Palestinian conflict difficult by the political inaction of the Palestinians, whose leader, Abbas, was last elected to a four-year term in office in 2005 but is still in power after postponing many elections.
Biden had anticipated being close to finalizing a significant agreement with Israel and Saudi Arabia to establish formal diplomatic relationships, which could potentially change the entire Middle East, as recently as this week.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict so difficult
It had been anticipated that Netanyahu would consent to the deal’s terms, including possibly suspending settlement construction and recognizing a future Palestinian state.
One American official said after Biden spoke with Netanyahu that “a move like this by Saudi Arabia will require a component dealing with the fundamentals between Israelis and Palestinians,” adding that it was made plain in the leaders’ meeting.
It is truly difficult to imagine Netanyahu accepting those effects right now given the violence that broke out on Saturday.
Even in the early aftermath of the horrific attacks in Israel, one thing seemed apparent: It would only be a matter of time before the violent events turned into an electoral effort against Biden.
This year, the Biden administration issued a waiver that allowed the unfreezing of billions of dollars in Iranian funds as part of an agreement to release five Americans who the US government believed were being held by Iran illegally. Given that Iran funds Hamas, this decision is certain to be brought up again as critics draw a connection between this funding and the assaults in Israel.
A senior administration official claimed on Saturday that the released money worth billions of dollars from the deal “did not go to Iran, are solely for humanitarian purposes, and not a single cent has been spent.”