Jannus TH Siahaan
Jannus TH Siahaan

Bibi and Biden

The first time Netanyahu sat as prime minister, he could not immediately execute his settlement plan due to Bill Clinton was in power. Clinton’s heart was upset because the Camp David Treaty was in danger after Yitzhak Rabin was struck in the end of a peaceful rally to support warm relation between Israel and Palestine. Bibi who from the beginning opposed the Camp David deal, had to negotiate and make peace with Clinton.

But however, Bibi was forced to shake hands with Yaser Arafat, then holding several meetings to fulfill Clinton’s ambitions. But at that time, Bibi was indeed impressed trying to slow down the peace process. On other hand, his political impression declined in the Israeli right wing because he was considered to be part of the Yitzhak Rabin rhythm. As a result, Bibi was knocked out of the Israeli Prime Minister’s seat

Unfortunately, when he was re-elected, Obama was also in power in the US, with Joe Biden as vice president. Their first meeting in May 2009, very disappointing Bibi. Obama rejected Netanyahu’s settlement plan. Even Obama looked very tough on Israel because he wanted to improve relations with Islamic countries. Even more obvious, on Obama’s visit to Egypt and several other Arab countries, Obama really passed through Israel, without trying to land in Israel at all.

When Arab Spring surged, especially in Egypt, Obama flinched. While Bibi was worried, the power vacuum in Egypt could open up opportunities for Islamic hardliners to rule. On the other hand, Obama realized that Bibi had a point. It is not easy to bring democracy to the Islamic world. Finally, Obama supported Israel to return to the border agreement in 1967.

But the problem, only the concept offered by Obama was not what Bibi imagined. Obama’s offer was considered by Bibi to trigger a big war. Tension ensued between them. Bibi flew to United State, met Obama, even impressed by lecturing Obama about the Middle East at the time. Bibi dislike to Obama was evident in the 2012 American presidential election. He came to the US to meet Mitt Romney and promised support from the American Jewish community.

And the peak occurred in 2015, where the Democratic Party lost the majority of votes in the American Congress, both at House and at the Senate. Bibi came back to America, gave a speech in Congress against Obama about a plan for peaceful diplomacy with Iran regarding Peace Nuclear Agreement. Obama really felt in the Coup, but what could he do, Congress at that time belonged to the Republican Party.

And when Bibi was elected as Prime Minister again, the moment was different. Republic Party was in power. Donald Trump became a strategic partner in accordance with Bibi’s conservative political platform. Trump had proven his serious allegiance to Israel by moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

But, Bibi’s position was like a race against time. Fortunately, thanks to the full support of the Donald Trump administration, Israel now has diplomatic relations with several Islamic countries in the Middle East and Africa, such as the UEA and Marroco. Netanyahu’s closeness to Jared Kusnher, whom Donald Trump trusted to deal with the Saudis (Muhammad bin Salman) made Israel’s position much better in the Middle East today.

And the good news is, even though Biden still speaks out loud about the two-state solution, Biden honors the agreed Abraham Accord. At least it becomes a common ground between Bibi and Biden. Meanwhile, the two-state solution may still warm relations between Israel and Palestine, but what is far more urgent is the Iran issue, which Netanyahu and Biden will often clash with.

Joe Biden is not the same as Obama, but Joe Biden is also not the same as Donald Trump who is very supportive of Bibi. So going forward, if Bibi is re-elected as Prime Minister, Bibi will deal with Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, which will always be critical of whatever Netanyahu’s policy plans are, including Israel’s tough approach to Iran.

About the Author
Doctor of Sociology from Padjadjaran University, Indonesia. Defense and Environment Observer.