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Biden Administration Continues to Fumble on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict



Jerusalem from Mt. Scopus 1

Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently gave remarks at the J Street National Conference, highlighting the Biden Administration’s policy on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. There are several things Blinken stated that reveal that the Biden Administration continues to push policies that undermine Israel, which in turn pushes away chances for fostering peace between Israel and the Palestinians.


Error #1: Continued Fixation on the Two-State Solution

The Biden administration remains obsessed with the “two-state solution,” as Blinken mentions it or a similar reference to “two states” a whopping ten times in his speech. Blinken states that the United States is “holding firm to the vision of two states for two peoples.” What Blinken ignores is the number of times that this framework has failed. The Arabs rejected proposals to gain sovereignty of Judea and Samaria in 1937, 1947, 1967–1968, 2000, 2001, and 2008, and in 2020. There is no indication that a two-state solution now has a greater chance of success.

Blinken also argues that “[a]nything that takes us away from two states is detrimental to Israel’s long-term security and its long-term identity.” The reality is the opposite, as the Oslo Accords and the road to the two-state solution has brought more war to Israel with the Palestinians than before. Since the Oslo Accords in 1993, Israel has faced the Second Intifada, the Knife Intifada, and three wars (2008-9, 2012, 2014) and many other smaller engagements in Gaza.


Error #2: Continued Opposition to Settlements

 The Biden administration opposes “settlement expansion” and “moves toward [Israeli] annexation of the West Bank,” as indicated in Blinken’s speech.  But it is in Israel’s best interest to keep building the settlements, Israel’s right to do so goes back millennia, and Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is not an occupation. In contrast to President Biden’s vision, President Trump’s peace plan, rejected out-of-hand by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, had envisioned that Israel could exert sovereignty on approximately 30 percent of Judea and Samaria (AKA the “West Bank”).


Error #3: Continued Undermining of Israeli Sovereignty in Jerusalem

Blinken’s remarks show that the Biden administration remains intent on undermining Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.

The first way Blinken highlights this is in articulating the Biden administration’s position on Jerusalem’s status. Blinken states: “The United States continues to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. As the President also said in his visit, Jerusalem is central to the national visions of both Palestinians and Israelis, and must be a city for all of its people.” With these two sentences, the Biden administration is speaking in contradictory terms. Yes, the Biden administration recognizes that Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will stand. But on the other hand, the Biden administration recognizes Jerusalem as “central to the national vision” of the Palestinians, meaning that the Biden administration recognizes Jerusalem as a capital of the Palestinians as well, and is undermining Israeli sovereignty in the ancient capital of the Jewish people.

Secondly, Blinken shows that the Biden administration is undermining Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem by stating that the Biden administration opposes “disruption to the historic status quo at holy sites.” This refers to opposing Jewish rights to pray on the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism.

A third instance of Blinken’s speech showing that the Biden administration is undermining Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem is when Blinken states that the Biden administration is working “with Congress to provide $100 million to bolster healthcare for Palestinians through the East Jerusalem Hospital Network.” As icing on the cake, Blinken admitted that he “had an opportunity to visit one of those hospitals on a recent trip.” What is remarkable about these quotes is that the Biden administration chooses to invest $100 million in healthcare and visit the Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem, as opposed to doing both in Palestinian Authority-controlled Area A of Judea and Samaria. Both actions serve to erode Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.



 Blinken’s speech to J Street shows that the Biden administration continues to fundamentally miss the mark when it comes to the “two-state solution,” settlements, and Jerusalem. By taking positions that are contrary to the national interests of Israel on these issues, the Biden administration guarantees that it will disrupt, rather than foster, peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Only by supporting Israel on these core issues, and actively promoting and expanding the Abraham Accords, can the Biden administration secure durable wins for peace in the region.

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Biden Administration Sacrificing Saudi-Israel Deal on Altar of Palestinian Statehood



Saudi crown prince

Iran kicked out one-third of its nuclear inspectors. The Biden administration is on the verge of getting Iran to release five hostages in exchange for unfreezing $6 billion of Iranian cash, and potentially five Iranian prisoners held in US custody. As Iran is on the march, a breakthrough in Middle East peace can’t come fast enough.

The best way to check Iranian ambitions in the region would be the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. While such a deal would be “tectonic,” the Biden administration is destroying the prospects for normalization because it continues to be obsessed with linking the deal to Palestinian nationalism.

More than any of the known Palestinian demands to date, the Biden administration is fixated on Palestinian statehood. And the administration continues to browbeat Israel on that point. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has recently claimed that both Saudi Arabia and the Biden administration view a two-state solution an important piece to any deal. Previously, Blinken told Israel’s minister of strategic affairs, Ron Dermer, that Israel would be “misreading the situation” if it doesn’t think that significant concessions to the Palestinians would be required to broker a Saudi-Israel deal. White House National Security Council spokesman Jake Sullivan also told Dermer that that Israel will need to give significant concessions to the Palestinians so that the Biden administration can sell the deal to Democrats in Congress.

One unconfirmed Saudi press report stated that the Saudis have walked away from talks, due to concerns that Israel wouldn’t agree to placate the Palestinians. However, both an American and an Israeli official have asserted that that report is false.

What is more likely is that the Saudis are taking a pragmatic, not absolutist, approach to a Palestinian track. According to an unnamed Arab official who is familiar with recent talks between Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority (PA) earlier this month, Saudi Arabia is now communicating to the PA that it is willing to abandon the two-state solution as a pre-condition for normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel, and that the PA needs to acclimate its demands to that fact. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has proposed to re-start aid to the PA, halted since 2016, in efforts to get the PA to at least tacitly support normalization.

The Israeli response to Palestinian nationalism is much more publicly opposed. Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi has rejected the idea of Palestinian statehood as part of the deal. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said the concept of Israeli concessions to the Palestinians as a part of normalization is “a fiction” as such a deal “has nothing to do with Judea and Samaria [commonly referred to in the West as the ‘West Bank’].”

Israel’s hostility to Palestinian nationalism is well founded. As the Oslo Accords turn 30 years old, the so called “peace process” has failed to bring peace to Israel, as Israel has had to defend itself against at least five warsand countless smaller violent conflicts against the Palestinians since 1993. PA President Mahmoud Abbas continued to show his true bigoted face with a recent anti-Semitic diatribe, part and parcel of the systemic anti-Semitism and incitement to violence of the PA.

The Biden administration continues to stand in the way of Saudi Arabia’s normalization of relations with Israel, as it continues to pursue maximalist demands on Palestinian statehood. This is a non-starter for Israel, and not a top concern for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, like Israel, is primarily focused on using the deal to leverage its strength against Iran – as Saudi Arabia is looking to secure US support for advanced weapons, a NATO-like alliance, and civilian nuclear energy. In order to make a sustainable counterweight against Iranian aggression, the Biden administration must jettison its demands for Palestinian statehood, and at the very least answer Saudi concerns with a serious counter-offer. Failure to buttress Israel, Saudi Arabia and our Gulf allies will likely result in a resurgent Iran.

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