President Biden’s recent visit here in Israel was hardly extraordinary. President Nixon visited in 1974, the first American sitting president to do so. That was the year after the Yom Kippur War, when Nixon overruled his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and made sure Israel was rapidly resupplied with arms and ammunition.
President Jimmy Carter’s visit soon resulted in the 1979 peace agreement with Egypt, which has endured and lately been enhanced, especially militarily. President Clinton visited three times while in office. His efforts resulted in the signing of the Oslo Accords, whose early promise turned disastrous. President George H. Bush came twice to Israel but his best efforts were mostly thwarted by the rise of the Hamas terror organization which rules Gaza today.
President Obama’s first visit to the Middle East bypassed Israel and began in Cairo, where his agenda to sideline Israel and favor Iran was apparent. While Obama approved a generous 10-year military package with Israel, his last act before leaving office was a knife in the chest to Israel in the form of a Security Council resolution which basically stripped Israel of its history and rights to sovereignty in the Land of Israel (according to the UN).
Easily the most consequential presidential trip here was by President Trump in 2017, when he became the first sitting president to visit the Old City and to pray at the Western Wall, virtually erasing the UN-inspired separation of Jerusalem into “East and West.” Trump, unlike his predecessors, fulfilled the 1995 Congressional law stipulating Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and authorizing the move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He acknowledged Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights and declared Israeli communities beyond the 1949 Green Line, “not inconsistent with international law,” diplomat speech for “legal.”
Then, under Trump’s watch, the Abraham Accords were signed with the UAE and Bahrain (and later Sudan and Morocco both signed). This set the stage for greatly enhanced military and commercial ties between Israel and Abraham Accord partners as well as other Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia.
One can’t deny that President Biden at the very least puts on a good show of affection for the State of Israel, even proclaiming himself a Zionist. However, his attestations of love for Israel lack evidence, as proven by the president’s insults to Israel during his visit, restoring a modicum of self confidence to the Palestinian Authority rulers who promote the usurpation of Israel. That feeling is the opposite of what the Palestinian Arabs have to accept to make a deal with Israel. That is, Israel is the Jewish State, albeit with a Muslim minority. Under no circumstances will Israel trade territory to placate its enemies. (One can only hope!)
What is perhaps Israel’s most vital interest vis a vis other nations? It is Israeli sovereignty over the Jews’ eternal capital, Jerusalem. Our claim to Israel is the Biblical promise from God; historical, 3,000 documented years of Jewish history here; and legal, by the internationally recognized right of self defense: Israel liberated Jerusalem and all of Israel after Jordan and other Arab states invaded it in June 1967. In any event, Jordan had illegally occupied the older sections of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria (termed the West Bank by Jordan in 1950) only 19 years before. It’s significant that Pakistan alone recognized Jordanian sovereignty there. Not least is Israel’s victory in the 1967 self-defensive, Six Day War, war being a basis for the borders of many modern states, including America’s Southwestern region. (See Note)
With that as background, how can Israel not be insulted by President Biden visiting the Augusta Victoria Hospital near Hebrew University in Jerusalem without being accompanied by an Israeli diplomat. (All Israeli hospitals treat patients regardless of race or religion. But this Lutheran-run hospital is Jew-free!) This unaccompanied visit is an unprecedented event which undermines Israeli sovereignty in its capital. The president’s limousine, which always displays both an American and an Israeli flag on its front fenders while in Israel, removed the Israeli flag with a second American one on that short trip, ostensibly diminishing Israel’s sovereignty.
The Biden Administration still publicly promotes the two-state “peace” plan with borders mostly hewing to the 1949 Armistice lines. (Auschwitz borders, as Abba Eban named them.) Put succinctly, this idea will never work; neither side would accept it. The US continues to support the corrupt Palestinian Authority and its decrepit leader, Mahmoud Abbas. This in spite of the PA insistence on subsidizing murderers of Jews in varying amounts, with the highest amounts paid for the most dead Jews, among other Jew-hating initiatives.
President Biden’s agenda for this Middle East visit was primarily to reboot relations with Saudi Arabia (known as Saudi), after his impolitic comments about the country and its acting leader, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). This followed the gruesome assassination in Istanbul of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. No saint, Khashoggi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of Hamas. Coincidentally, he was an American ‘permanent resident’ with a Green card who wrote about 20 articles for the Washington Post over a two year period.
The president was rebuked by many of his supporters for backtracking on his previous condemnations of MBS after Khashoggi’s murder, especially for the infamous fist-bump between him and MBS. Biden was forced to come hat in hand to Saudi and to meet face-to-face with MBS because of the huge spike in gasoline prices in the US. The president had hoped that MBS would authorize pumping more oil to offset the lack of oil supply in the US, due initially from the president’s immediate “Green” initiatives and later worsened by Russia’s war with Ukraine.
President Biden aimed to promote peaceful relations between the Gulf States and Israel, which are progressing without his help. He advanced the idea of a NATO-like military combination in the region to offset the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Such an arrangement already exists. The MEAD (Middle East Air Defense) is already operational and has successfully intercepted aerial threats. The alliance has reportedly brought together Israel and Arab states to cooperate in order to defend their countries from Iran and its proxies, which have increased their attacks, some of them very deadly, in recent years. The idea for the MEAD initiative dates back to 2015. https://www.jpost.com/middle-east-news/article-712150
Negotiations with Iran might have come up behind closed doors, but I’d be negligent if I didn’t berate the Biden Administration’s woeful negotiating tactics with the terror state, which seemingly will drag on until Iran achieves its aims (probably soon). The West, led by President Biden and joined by the EU, does not stand up to Iran, which is actually bullying the US and EU as if it were a state as powerful and rich as China! One has to go back a century to the Munich Agreement of 1938 to find equally shortsighted negotiations. The US doesn’t even mention using armed force against Iran as anything except a “last resort.” Plan B, anyone?
A return to the JCPOA (Iran Deal), which ends soon anyway, would reward the nefarious Iranians with about $1 trillion in frozen funds, over a five year period, to enhance Iran’s already huge, global terror efforts. The JCPOA also contains sunset clauses beginning in 2023 that essentially lift all restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, including allowing Iran to enrich as much uranium as it wants and to undertake any nuclear activity, as long as it is ostensibly for peaceful purposes. Does President Biden actually trust Iran?
In conclusion, one can only say that President Biden’s Middle East visit didn’t do much to improve his own reputation abroad or at home. Immediately after his departure from Saudi, he became an afterthought. The president’s one expected achievement, the opening Saudi air space to Israeli flights, was enacted before his visit by Saudi’s universal opening of its airspace to foreign airlines. Biden’s efforts to push MBS to further embrace Israel were rejected. The Arab NATO initiative is already in process under MEAD.
As for Saudi pumping more oil to replace the shortfall from the US and Russia, MBS seemed uninterested. “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently rejected a request from the US to speak with President Joe Biden about the oil crisis brought about by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.”
President Biden did manage to support the Palestinian Arab dream of dividing Jerusalem, which was an insult to Israelis. But on the plus side, the severe Iranian threat has succeeded to jumpstart the inclusion of Israel as a valued ally of the more moderate Arab nations. No thanks to outside interests…
Note: “When the US annexed Texas, Mexico severed formal diplomatic relations with the US Failed diplomatic efforts by the US to establish agreement on the Texas-Mexico border and to purchase Mexico’s California and New Mexico territories set the stage for the Mexican-American War [which Mexico lost]. “