OpinionU.S.-Israel Relations

Israel betrayed?

The Biden administration seems frustrated by Israel's determination to act as a sovereign nation rather than a U.S. vassal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes U.S. President Joe Biden at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes U.S. President Joe Biden at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.
Guy Millière
Guy Milliere

Feb. 15, 2024. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have a long phone conversation. The communiqué published by the White House briefing room says they spoke about humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza and Israeli military operations.

A few hours later, Netanyahu posted a blunt message on X:

“Israel will continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Such recognition in the wake of the October 7 massacre would give a huge reward to unprecedented terrorism and prevent any future peace settlement.”

It seems clear that the Biden administration would like to see the rapid creation of a Palestinian state or at least a “Palestinian unity government”—unfortunately composed of the Palestinian Authority and the terrorist group Hamas—and, abracadabra, recognize it.

According to The Washington Post:

“The Biden administration and a small group of Middle East partners are rushing to complete a detailed, comprehensive plan for long-term peace between Israel and Palestinians, including a firm timeline for the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

The article suggests that the U.S. State Department is conducting a review of options for recognizing the “Palestinian state” as soon as the war ends.

The article also says that there is an “elephant in the planning room”: The talks are taking place without any Israeli participation. As Netanyahu’s message shows, they are in fact taking place against the will of Israel’s prime minister and his government. They are even taking place against the will of almost all members of the Knesset. Israel’s parliament voted 99-to-11 on Feb. 21 to back the government’s decision to reject “international dictates regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians and the establishment of a Palestinian state” and its “unilateral recognition.”

How can members of the Biden administration think it will achieve any kind of “peace” between Israel and Palestinians under these conditions? They probably do not. They’re probably just looking at election polls in Michigan, where many Democrats who are likely pro-Hamas recently voted “uncommitted” in the party’s presidential primary. How can administration officials imagine being able to create a Palestinian state without Israel’s acceptance?

How can the Biden administration fail to see that creating an essentially unrevitalized Palestinian state or a terrorist “Palestinian Unity Government” just months after the Oct. 7 massacre would constitute a huge reward for terrorism?

The Biden administration also appears ready to reward terrorists. In fact it already does. On Oct. 18, a week after the Hamas massacre, it gave $100 million in “humanitarian aid” to Gaza and the West Bank—knowing full well that Gaza was controlled by Hamas and that the money and aid would end up in the terror group’s hands.

The Biden administration, to its great credit, sent aircraft carriers to the area in the immediate aftermath of the attack, has supplied Israel with munitions and has verbally supported it—but is also apparently trying not to lose the “Arab-American vote.”

On Jan. 26, 2021, six days after Biden was sworn in, acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Mills said that the Biden administration would “restore aid” to the Palestinian Authority. A few weeks later, without the Biden administration even asking the P.A. to stop funding terrorism, aid was restored.

In 2021, when Hamas attacked Israel, the Biden administration pressured the Israeli government to stop the Israeli response. When a ceasefire was implemented, Biden promised to provide rapid humanitarian assistance for the Gaza population and aid for the reconstruction of the territory. Even then, it was clear that the aid would help the ruling terrorist group Hamas, whatever denials Biden issued at that time, such as: “We will do this in full partnership with the Palestinian Authority—not Hamas.”

To “manage” the situation, Biden sent Hady Amr, a man who had written that the terrorist group Hamas should be included in the negotiations; Biden then named Amr U.S. special representative for Palestinian affairs.

On Jan. 19, 2021, Antony Blinken, who was not yet sworn in as secretary of state, pledged that the Biden administration would negotiate a new agreement with Israel’s main enemy in the region, Iran. Nine days later, having become secretary of state, he appointed as special envoy to Iran Robert Malley, a man reportedly sympathetic to the Islamic Republic and later suspended for activity currently under investigation—if the investigation has not been secretly dropped.

The administration then lifted various sanctions on Iran’s regime and gradually unfroze billions of dollars of Iranian funds. Although the main funder of Hamas has been Qatar—which provides “protection money” “without protection“—Iran has reportedly been giving Hamas $100 million a year, part of which was likely used to finance Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre and war machine.

In a move no one ever talks about, the P.A.—in a move recommended by the 2009 Fayyad Plan and implemented with the inordinately generous help of the European Union—has been rushing as fast as it can to build “facts on the ground” in disputed areas, thereby bypassing the direct negotiations to which both sides had agreed. These “facts” now include at least “close to 10,000” illegal Arab construction sites. All the same, under the Israeli government of then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, the Biden administration published statements hostile to Israel and to the Jewish “settlements” in the West Bank. Many Palestinians, nevertheless, appear to view all of Israel as “one big settlement.”

As soon as Netanyahu won the Israeli elections on Nov. 1, 2022, the Biden administration’s hostility intensified—not for the first time—against Netanyahu himself. The State Department helped to fund months-long anti-Netanyahu protests that were essentially aimed at bringing down his government.

Immediately after the Oct. 7 massacre, Blinken and Biden showed their support for Israel, but even then started to pressure Israel—not Hamas or Iran or Hamas’s sponsor, Qatar. Blinken reportedly made the supply of munitions to the Israeli military conditional on Israel’s acceptance of the payment of $100 million in aid to the Palestinians from the United States. “[D]on’t be consumed by rage,” Biden cautioned. Since then, the pressure has continued to increase.

On Nov. 30, Blinken denounced the “massive loss of civilian lives” resulting from Israeli military action in Gaza and added that Israel must “respect international humanitarian law,” implying that it was not. Israel, meanwhile, has been going to extraordinary lengths to protect the citizens of Gaza. Israelis made thousands of calls to Gazans’ cell phones and blanketed Gaza by air with leaflets in Arabic telling them where to flee to safety—while their own leaders from Hamas shot at them to keep them from leaving, and, later, to stop them from receiving humanitarian aid.

The Biden administration, while having been immensely helpful in sending aircraft carriers to the region—presumably as a deterrent to keep the war from spreading—now appears to be trying to dictate to Israel how it should fight its war. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, however, assured Israel that the United States will not limit the time it needs to complete its mission.

Biden has also helpfully ignored requests from “Democratic senators” to withhold military support for Israel if it does not approve humanitarian aid for Gaza, unfortunately meaning for Hamas, which appropriates it (see herehere , here , here and here).

Trying to establish a “peace plan” that is bound to bring more war—especially against Israel’s will—is acting against Israel. Moreover, any peace plan established in this way is destined to fail.

The Biden administration, regrettably, seems to have a way of ignoring what it does not want to hear or see.

In the Middle East, every time Israeli leaders have harbored illusions about Palestinian leaders or given in to foreign pressure, devastating terrorist acts have followed.

The so-called “peace process” that followed the Oslo Accords led to the creation of the P.A., which quickly became a base for continuous anti-Israeli terrorism and a wave of bloody attacks that, until Oct. 7, was interrupted only by Israel’s construction of the Judea and Samaria security barrier.

If elections were held today, polls show, Palestinians would vote overwhelmingly for Hamas. Any Palestinian Arab leader who signs a peace treaty with Israel today would be seen as a traitor and lynched. The true aim of the Palestinian leadership at the moment, as columnist Daniel Greenfield points out, is probably to keep the money coming in.

On Feb. 23, Blinken said that Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank is “inconsistent with international law”—a reversal of the position expressed by then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2019: “Judea and Samaria are rightful parts of the Jewish homeland, and Israelis have a right to live there.”

Three weeks earlier, Biden signed an executive order allowing sanctions on Israeli settlers (and potentially Israeli politicians) alleged to have been involved in violence against Palestinians—after 5,600 terrorist attacks were carried out against Israelis in 2023. During the same period, Israelis carried out 60 acts of violence against Palestinians, largely in self-defense. The Biden administration punished the Israelis, not their attackers.

The Biden administration, citing the risks of famine, has been insisting on sending more humanitarian aid to Gaza even though most of it is captured by Hamas, prolonging the terror group’s ability to fight. When civilians come near the aid supplies, Hamas shoots.

The United States is about to build a pier off the Gaza coast to bring in more humanitarian aid, with the help of the United Arab Emirates. However, it is not clear how they plan to prevent Hamas from commandeering the additional aid.

“To survive,” President Biden said on Feb. 26, “Israel must take the opportunity for peace, security with Palestinians. … I think that if we get that temporary ceasefire, we’re going to be able to move in a direction where we can change the dynamic.”

Polls show that most Israelis know that the survival of their country is at stake. They do not think for a moment that there is any opportunity for peace and they definitely do not want to “change the dynamic.” Israelis have not forgotten Oct. 7, which Netanyahu has compared to “twenty 9/11s.” The Israeli people, according to reports, is unified in the view that without the destruction of Hamas as a political and military threat, Israel will never be safe.

They understand that if Hamas survives the war, its leaders will declare victory and the threat to Israel will only worsen.

Israelis are also well aware that the real threat to Israel is the regime of Iran, which, despite denials, clearly helped plan the Oct. 7 attack. However, even though its proxy militias in Iraq and Syria have since Oct. 7 carried out more than 150 attacks on American troops, the Biden administration still refuses to hold Iran to account. Another of Iran’s proxies, Hezbollah, which boasts at least 150,000 missiles aimed at Israel, a country the size of New Jersey, continues to fire missiles into the north of Israel—100 on one recent day—making the northernmost parts of the country uninhabitable.

The Biden administration, for its part, sometimes seems frustrated by Israel’s determination to act as a sovereign nation rather than a U.S. vassal. On Jan. 7, CNN‘s Jake Tapper reported that a Biden administration official had told him Netanyahu would have to choose between his coalition and his ties to the United States.

The Biden administration has tried to circumvent Netanyahu and create political divisions in Israel during the war. Last month, a political rival of Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, whom Netanyahu brought into his War Cabinet, made an unauthorized visit to Washington, at the invitation of the Biden administration, for “policy meetings”—without Netanyahu’s agreement and without coordinating his plans with the Israeli government.

NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell wrote that senior U.S. officials said the Biden administration is looking past Netanyahu to try to achieve its goals in the region. It appears that the Biden administration would like to trade Netanyahu in for a doormat who would agree to a terrorist Palestinian state next door, a Hamas victory in Gaza and a nuclear-armed Iran.

On March 14, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) actually called for ousting the democratically-elected Israeli premier and proposed early elections—as if it were his prerogative to tell the government of another sovereign nation how to conduct its internal affairs. The impropriety shocked even the usually shock-resistant Washington. “Chuck Schumer’s demand for new Israeli elections is inappropriate and offensive,” Sen. Tom Cotton. (R-Ark.) shot back. “The last thing Israel needs is the ‘foreign election interference’ that Democrats so often decry here.”

Netanyahu, meanwhile, is not giving in, and his governing coalition is solid. Israel also benefits from strong support from the American people. A recent poll shows that 82% of Americans support Israel in its fight against Hamas, 67% think that a ceasefire should happen only after the release of all hostages and Hamas is removed from power, and 78% think that Hamas must be removed from power in Gaza.

After being caught on a hot mic stating that he would have a “come-to-Jesus meeting” with Netanyahu, Biden emphasized that there is “no red line” and that he will “never leave” Israel without support.

Since then, however, the Daily Mail noted:

“‘I have been asked by a serious [U.S.] administration figure what it is that will force the Netanyahu coalition to collapse,’ the Israel expert told New York magazine. ‘They were interested in the mechanics, what can we demand which will collapse his coalition.'”

“At a certain point in the not-so-distant future,” wrote Israeli columnist Caroline Glick, “Netanyahu will need to say ‘no’ to the administration. It can only be hoped that the vast majority of Americans, who stand with Israel against its enemies, will stand with Israel when we arrive at that point.”

This is an edited version of an article originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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