Despite the special relationship between the United States and Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu relatively late (entering Twitter on November 8) congratulated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, without specifying what they were about. He did not have a phone conversation with the president-elect until November 17, many days after meeting the leaders of France, Germany, Great Britain and Canada. Meanwhile, the two politicians agreed that they would meet soon.
- The situation contrasted starkly with the situation in 2016, when Netanyahu spoke with President-elect Donald Trump the day after the election. The Israeli prime minister’s disciplined behavior stems from his close personal relationship with Trump and his fear of decisions that the outgoing president might make (or refrain from) in his final months in office if he finds Netanyahu unfaithful.
- In many of his actions, Trump departed from current US policy canons, and these were useful steps for Israel. These include: recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the state, recognition of the annexation of the Golan Heights, withdrawal of opposition to the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a significant weakening of the Palestinian Authority, withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the policy of “maximum pressure” on Tehran, and finally to normalize relations. Between Israel, the Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. Personally, relations with Israel in the Trump administration have been almost exclusively responsible for people of Jewish origin who are usually clearly sympathetic to the Israeli right. It seems likely that the cautious approach to the outcome of the US election is linked to the fact that the Netanyahu government is currently seeking more groundbreaking decisions in Washington, which will not be possible after the change of administration.
- The accomplishments of the two Presidents before Biden in Israel are evaluated very differently. Despite adopting in 2016 the largest-ever military aid package of $ 38 billion, Barack Obama’s presidency was negatively assessed by his signature of the JCPOA agreement with Iran and his criticism of expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank. In 2016, 63% of Israelis described Obama as “the worst American president of Israel in the past three decades.” On the one hand, Trump’s mandate, whose accomplishments will be the starting point for the Biden administration, are being evaluated – for the reasons mentioned above – with great enthusiasm by both the government and the public. In an October poll this year, more than 60% of Israelis hoped the incumbent president would be re-elected, while less than 20% of respondents supported Biden.
- Biden and his comrades ’statements so far indicate that the US policy towards Israel will contain the two elements of continuation (including adherence to the resolution on Jerusalem and support for the normalization of relations with Arab countries) and attempts to return to Obama’s strategy in such a way. Aspects such as preventing Israel from acting on the facts in the West Bank or rebuilding contacts with the Palestinian Authority. The biggest concern in Israel is Biden’s announcement that he will return to talks with Tehran about the Iranian nuclear program. However, it is extremely difficult at this point to predict how realistic it will be to re-implement the JCPOA in some form. In the regional politics of the United States, we should expect the continuation of the trend observed in the actions of the last two presidents – a decrease in the importance of the Middle East and a gradual decrease in the level of American activity in the region (while preserving the privilege of relations with selected countries, including Israel).
- The Biden administration will be a much more difficult partner to the Netanyahu government than before. First of all, the United States will likely hold Israel to account for its policy toward Palestine to a large extent and prevent it from actions that could destroy the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict with it. The Netanyahu-led Jewish state will have relatively weaker tools to pressure the new administration. Unlike Trump, Biden is not dependent on sympathetic voters or donors of the Israeli right, and has garnered a strong political mandate from the Jewish diaspora in the United States (he garnered 70% of the vote). In addition, the return of Democrats to the White House means strengthening the left wing of the Democratic Party, which is critical of many aspects of Israeli behavior, and related Jewish organizations, such as J Street, which criticize Netanyahu’s right-wing policies. At the same time, Biden himself has repeatedly declared himself at various stages in his career (as well as in a phone conversation with Netanyahu on November 17) his attachment to the issue of Israel’s security and the distinctive nature of US-Israeli relations, ensuring that any “tightening of the path” will not go beyond the limits. Established by the prevailing policy in the United States.
- The two administrations will undoubtedly share the importance they attach to combating anti-Semitism. However, while the Trump government has focused on promoting a broader definition of anti-Semitism, including excessive / disproportionate criticism of the State of Israel or any movements in favor of boycotting it, the Biden presidency will likely reveal and condemn traditional anti-Semitism related to the activities of the far right (both in the United States). Or beyond) and all forms of historical revisionism.
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