Biden should strive to unite the US, help Israel protect itself - opinion

Two critical issues are core to Israel’s continued existence and should be priorities in the Biden administration: Israeli security and regional peace.

PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN speaks at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday. (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN speaks at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday.
Before Sen. Barack Obama was elected to the US presidency, he met president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. I attended the meeting as Peres’s closest adviser. In their conversation, Peres recounted a conversation between prime minister David Ben-Gurion and president John F. Kennedy. Years earlier, Kennedy asked Ben-Gurion how he could be a good president for Israel. Ben-Gurion responded, “Be a good president for America. When you succeed in this, you will be a good president not only for Israel but for all nations.”
Peres added, “A good president for the America strives for peace, fights terrorism, eradicates poverty and protects the environment. Most importantly, a strong American president champions democracy and invests in a better future for the next generation.”
President-elect Biden, this historical wisdom could not be truer today. You are taking office in a critical, difficult and defining moment in American history. The coronavirus pandemic has taken the lives of millions around the world and in the US at the same time as fundamental liberal institutions are under threat. Especially given the events of the past few days, you will be fighting for democracy, freedom, respect and unity – values that have been a gift to the world from America since its founding.
First, I am here to say that Israel stands with you. These values are core to our nation and society. We are rooting hard for you to lead the fight against the pandemic, unite the US, and show the strength of American democracy. Your success will benefit not just the American people, but the people of Israel and the rest of the world as well.
Second, I want to raise two critical issues that are core to Israel’s continued existence and which I humbly ask you to make priorities in your administration: Israeli security and regional peace.
Enabling Israel to protect itself is crucial to its existence. The critical priorities for Israel’s security are maintaining its military superiority and preventing a nuclear Iran. President-elect Biden, I hope you will continue the legacy of the Obama-Biden administration, which consistently made the security of Israeli citizens a top priority.
THE OBAMA-BIDEN administration saw the development and US funding of the Iron Dome system against short-range missiles, and David’s Sling against mid-range missiles; the revival of the Arrow long-range ballistic missile; and unprecedented levels of intelligence sharing and technological collaboration between the American and Israeli defense communities. We are sure the Biden-Harris administration will continue building upon the powerful security partnership between our countries.
I am also convinced the Biden administration will bring Iran back to an agreement that will prevent the Islamic Republic from ever reaching nuclear-weapons capability. This is crucial not just to Israel’s security, it is a common interest of all nations in our region. No less important, we ask that the Biden-Harris administration use the tools at its disposal to force the Iranians to stop developing long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
Both president Obama and president Peres were visionaries for a new Middle East. The Middle East is now in an historic moment, ripe with opportunity and momentum to create sustainable regional peace. We ask that you support Israel in strengthening our long-term relationships with Egypt and Jordan; make current initiatives with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bahrain and Sudan a success; and expand many other partnerships in the region. We must all recognize that while the regional dynamics and interests have changed, the vision for a peaceful Middle East has not. We will need to be creative and open-minded to new approaches to achieve the decades-long vision of peach.
Further, as with the vast majority of Israeli citizens, you wholeheartedly supported for both political and moral reasons the “two-state solution” as the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I am confident that with your humble and moral leadership, your administration will find a creative path such that Israelis and Palestinians can live side-by-side, with independence, security, economic prosperity and mutual respect. This is critical not only for Palestinian self-determination, but for the longevity of Israel as a Jewish and democratic nation as well.
I will conclude with a warm welcome to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris. May you be champions for democracy, peace, unity and health for the United States, Israel and the entire world.
The writer served as political adviser to Shimon Peres from 1990-2016.