The Times of Israel reported on Monday that “US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Sunday told a United Arab Emirates news site [al-Ain] that a Joe Biden win in next month’s US elections would see American policy on Iran shift in a way that would be damaging to Israel and the Gulf states.”
But, as Joe Biden likes to say, “Here’s the deal.” Ambassador Friedman is simply wrong, and he is fear-mongering for no reason other than the political gain of Donald Trump.
Friedman threatened that “If Biden wins, we will see a policy shift that in my personal opinion will be wrong and will be bad for the region, including for Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait.”
While in reality, Iran is far closer to a nuclear ‘break out’ today than it was when Trump took office. Iran is more aggressive around the region as well. The US is more isolated, unable to get other countries to extend the UN arms embargo against Iran or support the snapback of sanctions. Trump left the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with no strategy, and the result is a more dangerous Iran, an ineffectual United States, and a more unstable and unsafe Middle East.
Joe Biden will restore credibility to US diplomacy and look for an opportunity to reach a new arrangement that will ensure Iran cannot acquire nuclear weapons, as well as address the other malign actions that Iran takes in the region and around the world, particularly as they affect Israel. He will always stand resolutely for Israel’s right and ability to defend itself against these and other threats. That includes ensuring Israel’s qualitative military edge, which Trump treated so cavalierly by promising to sell F-35 aircraft to Arab states, in contrast to the Obama-Biden administration which reserved that capability for Israel.
The recent accords with the UAE and Bahrain are an opportunity to expand the circle of peace in the region. Joe Biden will look to seize those opportunities by bringing in additional Arab states, keeping unilateral annexation of the West Bank off the agenda, and fostering renewed momentum in Israeli-Palestinian talks to keep a two-state solution alive, so Israel can retain its Jewish and democratic character.
2020 has been a most unusual year. A sitting United States ambassador has engaged in campaign rhetoric during an election campaign in direct violation of State Department rules and regulations. Will there be any consequences? Will Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or any Republican senator rebuke the ambassador? Will Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) clutch her pearls and say the President has learned his lesson from the impeachment hearings and the Ambassador Gordon Sondland debacle? Norm after norm has been crushed by the Republican Party over the last four years, and at a dizzying rate in the last several months — so much so that it is hard to keep up with the news. Just yesterday the President exposed Secret Service members, who sign up to ‘take a bullet for the President,’ to COVID-19. The only answer we as American citizens have is to vote. Vote for a saner future. One that makes us all safer.
In another month we will announce President-elect Joe Biden. We will usher out the wildness of 2020 and work hard to bring back decency and a more stable future for the Middle East.