Days after the 2020 election in the United States, France24, a leading news outlet in France published an opinion editorial captioned ‘Biden’s election stirs apprehension and hope in the Middle East’, where it said: “Of all US President Donald Trump’s foreign policy moves, it may be those in the Middle East that prove the most lasting. Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal; angered the Palestinians by moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, cutting off US aid and closing their diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C.; and later brokered the normalization of ties between Israel and several Arab states. Now, Israelis, Palestinians and others are trying to anticipate what Joe Biden’s incoming administration will mean for the region.
Immediately after the US media declared Joe Biden as the winner, although congratulatory messages from the world leaders promptly started pouring in, the government of the State of Israel and several Gulf nations were extremely cautious.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waited 12 hours before tweeting his congratulations, but even then, he did not mention the words “election” or “victory”, nor did he call Biden the “president-elect”. Still, he did note his long personal relationship with Biden and said he looked forward to working with him and his new vice president, Kamala Harris.
In Israel, there is concern among Netanyahu supporters that the new US administration might hold a grudge since, over the last 12 years, Israel has broken its long-held tradition of refraining from outwardly supporting one US political party over the other with Netanyahu’s antipathy toward former President Barack Obama and subsequent embrace of Trump.
Experts on the Middle East affairs are seeing a clash between Joe Biden’s administration and the Israeli Prime Minister, which may ultimately push Biden-Harris towards the anti-Israel bloc, particularly Iran and Qatar. They may even put a number of nations in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE under tremendous pressure by empowering Iran as well as instigating another Arab Spring with the target of unseating the kings and Sheikhs in the Arab nations. It won’t even be unlikely that the Middle East policy of the Biden-Harris administration may create room for Islamic State’s regaining of power in the region and even it may lead to the birth of newer Islamist terror outfits as it had happened during the Obama administration.
Commenting on Biden’s possible Middle East policy, retired Israeli Brigadier-General Yossi Kuperwasser, a senior fellow at the Center for Public Affairs, a Jerusalem-based think tank told France24 “It will be very difficult for Biden to advance his worldview, because of internal American politics – even within the Democratic Party he faces voices that are pulling him in opposite directions and, of course, in the US in general – but also because of changes in the Middle East itself.”
He further said “The Arab world has now said clearly, ‘Listen, the Palestinian issue is not at the top of our priorities’. Is Biden supposed to force the Arab world to go back and put the Palestinian issue at the top of their priorities? That’s a bit of an archaic approach … It’s clear to him that this would create a conflict with Israel and I don’t believe that in the end he’d want such a conflict.”
But, most of the analysts say Joe Biden will resume aid to the Palestinian Authority. President Trump in 2019 ceased all US funding, worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, as the money was ultimately going into the hands of the members of mega-terror outfit Hamas and Palestinian terrorists.
As to Biden’s over-enthusiasm of re-entering into the nuclear deal with Iran, this certainly is going to be hugely problematic, as Iranians will take full advantage of it and this would only pave the path for Iran in emerging as a nuclear power. Moreover, if Biden goes back to the agreement with Iran, it will create tension with the pragmatic Muslim countries, the natural ally of the US, and also with Israel – another natural ally and trusted friend of America.
In brief, the special affection of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris towards Iran, Palestinian and Hamas will ultimately turn the Middle Eastern region unpeaceful again, while ultimately Americans will pay for such notorious policies.