President Joe Biden’s visit to the State of Israel this week has been successful — thanks largely to the fact that he has not been able to implement his campaign promises or the policies clearly preferred by the left-wing staff running his administration.
In the 2020 campaign, Biden sought to appease anti-Israel voices within his own party by promising to open a consulate for the Palestinians in “East Jerusalem.” He also vowed to bring back the Iran nuclear deal, and he criticized Saudi Arabia harshly.
Today, Biden has abandoned plans for a Palestinian consulate that would divide the city — so much so that the White House had to walk back a gaffe by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, a noted Russia hoaxer, that Biden still intended to do so.
Biden signed a declaration committing to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon; he told Israeli TV the U.S. would use force. And he is flying from Tel Aviv to Saudi Arabia — after Trump flew the first direct leg in the opposite direction in 2017.
Biden clings to the conceit that he is somehow correcting his predecessor’s mistakes. He laughably told a press conference on Thursday that he was addressing the “vacuum” of U.S. leadership in the Middle East somehow left to him by his predecessor — moments after praising the Abraham Accords, which only came about because of Trump’s intense diplomatic involvement. To the extent there is a “vacuum,” it was caused by Biden’s former boss, Barack Obama, who allowed Russia back into Syria.
Moreover, Biden continued to attack Trump for pulling out of the Iranian nuclear deal in 2018, a decision that was welcomed by Israel and the Sunni Arab world because the deal allowed Iran to become a nuclear power over time, and did nothing to stop its broader nefarious activities.
Earlier this week, Sullivan complained that Iran is supplying Russia with drones; that, as then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in 2015, is the kind of mischief that the Iran nuclear deal allowed.
Biden also continues to flog the dormant two-state solution, and restored hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Authority without getting anything in return. Notably, last year’s war between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian terror group ruling Gaza, happened after Biden pledged the cash. The administration began the war by criticizing Israel, and casting a false moral equivalence between the two sides, but eventually faced the reality of Palestinian malfeasance.
He irked Israelis by visiting the Augusta Victoria hospital in eastern Jerusalem, which services a largely Arab population, without Israeli flags on his limousine or Israeli officials in his entourage. It was the first visit by a sitting U.S. president to eastern Jerusalem outside the Old City (which Trump was the first to visit). That was a nod to continuing Palestinian aspirations to claim Jerusalem for their own. But Biden publicly denied that his visit represented a change in U.S. policy.
When he visits the Palestinians this week, Biden’s big priority will be the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed in an exchange of gunfire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants when Israel tried to arrest (rather than kill) terror suspects.
Had Palestinians not opened fire, Abu Akleh would be alive. U.S. investigators have said, correctly, that it is impossible to know which side fired the fatal bullet, but if Israel did so, it did not do so intentionally.
That has enraged the Palestinians, who still apparently do not know how to do anything except complain about Israel. They turned down Trump’s invitation to join the Abraham Accords, with $50 billion in investment as an incentive, and so instead they are watching the region move beyond their self-indulgence.
Even new Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, the left-wing alternative to Netanyahu, has only spoken once to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. They are impossible to deal with.
So Biden’s visit to Israel was a success, because he confirmed the status quo in U.S.-Israel relations, and implicitly accepted the direction that Trump set for the region. And unlike Obama, who delayed visiting Israel until his second term, Biden is not trying to isolate Israel, or conjure a new regional counterweight.
The Palestinians had a chance to influence Biden in the early days; they blew it in the usual fashion. Trump’s policies endure because Israel, and the Arab states, prefer his approach.
Overall, Biden’s visit is a success for Israel and for U.S.-Israel relations, and highlights the degree to which Palestinians have missed the boat. Moreover, it places relations with Israel on firmer bipartisan foundations. Democrats still have a problem with their anti-Israel (and antisemitic) left flank. But at least on this one issue, the most left-wing administration in U.S. history turned its back on “progressive” ideology and did the right thing, to the benefit of the American and Israeli people.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.