Israel’s special relationship with the US is a cornerstone in Israel’s foreign policy and national security but in recent years, alongside Benjamin Netanyahu’s close bond with Donald Trump, many challenges and residues have accumulated, undermining bipartisan consensus in American support of Israel.
A new US administration gives the opportunity for Israel to change course, but for that to happen it first needs to strengthen its own obligation to liberal-democratic values and to advance a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Both US and Israeli leaders emphasise the shared principles that underlie their relationship, but in recent years Israel’s leaders have acted in a way that undermines those principles, in particular Israel’s obligation to liberal democratic values.
This has not gone unnoticed, drawing increasing criticism in the US, including old friends of Israel who traditionally refrained from condemning its behaviour.
From annexation plans, West Bank policy, and the treatment of migrant workers, to Netanyahu’s racist allies and his de-legitimisation of the judiciary, the perception of Israel in the US has changed, alienating much of the American Jewish community, the Democratic Party, young people, and minorities.
Biden will reset America’s moral compass after Trump, so it is important that his administration sees Israel a partner that adheres to its values, not as a nation on the path of populist, illiberal rulers.
In this light, Israel’s adoption of a pro-peace foreign policy would reap many rewards on the international stage, including in its relationship with the US. Re-engaging in dialogue with the Palestinian leadership and being willing to accept territorial compromises while safeguarding its security interests, Israel will not only facilitate peace, but also strengthen its relations with America’s politicians and public.