(July 18, 2021 / JNS) The Biden administration is telling Israel that disagreements between them should remain private. Its double standard, like its hypocrisy, is astounding.
Washington had no problem, for example, publicly criticizing Israel’s decision to proceed with its effective policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinian-Arab terrorists who murder Jews and Americans. Earlier this month, U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price said, “We attach a good deal of priority to this, knowing that the home of an entire family shouldn’t be demolished for the action of one individual.”
He neglected to mention, however, that Israel has been forced to neutralize the grotesque incentive to terrorists that the Palestinian Authority’s “pay for slay” policy provides.
Such public opposition from the Unite States to one of Israel’s key elements of deterrence will only encourage more terrorism.
The Biden administration already reversed the halt in U.S. aid to the P.A., implemented by the administration of former President Donald Trump, by resuming the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars to Ramallah. This only serves to encourage the P.A. to maintain its “pay for slay” policy.
It is also a repeat of the behavior of the Obama administration, which gave money to the P.A. in spite of its blatant incentivizing of terrorism, while pressuring Israel to cease its own policies, such as home demolitions, aimed at deterring terrorism. This is not surprising, since the Biden administration is full of Obama administration officials.
Obama Secretary of State and current Biden administration member John Kerry famously declared, ”No, no, no” when commenting on the possibility of Arab countries making separate peace deals with Israel before the Palestinian issue is resolved. This statement of “fact” by was proven utterly fallacious with the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, as well as subsequent agreements with Sudan and Morocco.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has said that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told him that normalization with Arab countries “require[s] us to make an effort with the Palestinians.”
This view, according to Lapid, is “contrary to the Trump administration,” which “gave a sense that [the Abraham Accords] were instead of progress on the Palestinian front, or a way to prove it’s unnecessary.”
Lapid went on to make clear that he agreed with the Trump administration approach, commenting that “the Palestinians have to want progress themselves for someone to be able to help them, and that’s not the situation now in the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. Don’t shoot 4,000 rockets at Israelis if you want to get help,” he said about Gaza reconstruction.
In other words, he cannot understand why the Biden administration would not want to expand the Abraham Accords as rapidly as possible—and he’s right to wonder, since they have not been expanded since Biden took office.
The remains of Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul—as well as Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, two mentally disadvantaged Israeli civilians who wandered into Gaza in 2014 and 2015—are being held hostage by Hamas. On his recent visit to Washington, former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin took Goldin’s mother, Leah, with him to argue that the government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Premier Lapid will not allow Gaza to receive significant funds without the return of the young men.
Hamas, of course, wants the release of its terrorists in exchange—something that would lead to more Israeli casualties. Instead of supporting Israel’s position on the matter, the Biden administration is pressuring Israel to drop its stance and allow money into the Hamas-controlled Strip, even without the return of the men. This would only boost Hamas and encourage it to use both live and fallen Israelis as bargaining chips.
The Biden administration is also pressuring the Bennett-Lapid government to allow for the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, which had served as a de facto embassy to the P.A. Since the Trump administration opened the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and closed the Consulate, Biden can’t reopen the Consulate without Israel’s approval—something that Israel cannot give, as it will devalue America’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.
Due to clear historic reasons, there has never been any U.S. recognition of Palestinian-Arab rights to any part of Jerusalem; the P.A. offices are in Ramallah.
In a rare bipartisan declaration of unmistakable truth, the U.S. Senate recently voted 97-3 to reaffirm U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, a Knesset member from the Likud Party—which is in the opposition–is promoting legislation to prevent the opening of the U.S. Consulate. The Bennett-Lapid government should support this move and make it clear that it will not agree to the reopening of the Consulate.
The Bennett-Lapid government also opposes U.S. policy regarding Iran. Knowing that the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), spearheaded by the Obama administration, led to a financial windfall for Iran, enabling a 40 percent increase in its defense spending, enabling it to expand its support for global terrorism and its ballistic-missile program.
Since the Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, Iran’s foreign reserves dropped from more than $100 billion to less than $5 billion, forcing Iran, whose GDP dropped significantly, to reduce support for terrorism.
Iran, which just “elected” mass murderer Ebrahim Raisi as president, has repeatedly declared that its goal is the destruction of Israel and America. Israel has also found substantial evidence that Iran was pursuing a clandestine nuclear program in violation of the JCPOA.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once famously said if someone is a murderer, he can also be a liar. So, why enter into another agreement with Iran, when it is the leading state sponsor of terrorism; clearly cheated on the prior agreement; and plans, with the election of Raisi, to pursue an even more radical policy? The Biden administration has failed to provide a cogent rationale for such an approach—because there isn’t one.
Israel’s positions are fundamental to its security on all of the above issues. Many of the Biden administration’s positions were already implemented by the Obama administration and failed.
Good relations with the U.S. are important, but they need not come at the cost of Israel’s compromising its vital interests and the safety of its citizens.
Furthermore, if the Biden administration is going to violate its own demand for disagreements to be kept private, then Israel should make it clear that it will also speak up against American policies that it considers dangerous.
Farley Weiss, former president of the National Council of Young Israel, is an intellectual property attorney for the law firm of Weiss & Moy. The views expressed are the author’s, and not necessarily representative of NCYI.
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