Israel needs to prepare for the Biden era - opinion

Trump’s foreign policy concerning Israel is crystal clear, as during his tenure he and his administration proved not only in statements but mainly in acts that America strongly supports Israel.

Cover -Trumpeting peace Does the US Deal of the Century have a chance? (photo credit: REUTERS)
Cover -Trumpeting peace Does the US Deal of the Century have a chance?
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In less than four months, US presidential elections will take place in which presumptive Republican Party nominee Donald Trump, the incumbent, will face presumptive Democratic Party nominee and former Obama administration vice president John Biden. In Israel, this election is closely monitored, mainly because the results are expected to have an impact on Israeli-US relations and American foreign policy in the Middle East, especially regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Trump’s foreign policy concerning Israel is crystal clear, as during his tenure he and his administration proved not only in statements but mainly in acts that America strongly supports the Jewish state. Trump transferred the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in December 2017, withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018, and recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel in March 2019. Moreover, Trump introduced in January 2020 his plan for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, the most pro-Israeli plan an American president has ever put on the table, under which Israel would control the Jordan Valley and the settlement blocs.
In light of all these acts, it is no wonder that most of the Israeli public and many Jews in the world want to see Trump win the election.
While Trump has proven to be the most pro-Israeli president ever to sit in the White House, there is concern in Jerusalem that if Biden wins the election and is sworn in as president, a crisis in Israeli-US relations is inevitable.
This concern seems unfounded, in light of Biden’s statements about his persistent support for Israel. Thus, while senior Democratic Party officials such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have already stated that the US should reassess its relations with Israel, Biden continues to express his unconditional support for Israel. As an ardent supporter of Israel throughout his long political career, Biden argues that the Palestinians should recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. In addition, he indicated that the Palestinian Authority should condemn acts of terrorism, halt incitement, and stop paying salaries to terrorists and their families.
However, some disagreements between Israel and the US are expected if Biden wins the presidency. Thus, although Biden has already stated that the US Embassy will remain in Jerusalem, he has voiced opposition to unilaterally applying Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the settlements blocs, contending that such a unilateral act would harm the two-state solution formula. Moreover, while Biden reiterated that the $3.8 billion US aid to Israel would not be conditional on the cessation of settlement construction and progress in negotiations with the Palestinians, calling such linkage a scandalous proposal, he stated that should Iran return to its nuclear commitment, the US under his leadership would return to the nuclear agreement with Iran and work to extend its validity.

AS OF early July, Biden’s chances of winning the November presidential election appear to be very high. Analysis of the polls within each state (not the polls of the entire American general public) clearly illustrates that the State of Israel must begin to prepare for the Biden era in the White House.
In order to win the presidency, at least 270 electoral votes must be obtained. These polls show that Biden has 209 electoral votes compared to just 114 for Trump, while the battle for the remaining 215 electoral votes is still more or less open. Yet, when adding the states in which one nominee has a slight advantage over the other, Biden receives 279 electoral votes compared to only 191 for Trump, a figure that means victory for Biden.
In that situation, even if Trump wins the other 68 electoral votes, in the swing states where the race is tightest (Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Nevada), Biden will still win the election, 279-259.
In fact, Trump’s electoral situation is so troublesome that even in a state like Texas (38 electoral votes), which since the 1980 election has traditionally voted for the Republican nominee, the race is very close, with a slight advantage to Trump. In the state of Arizona (11 electoral votes), however, which since the 1952 election has given its support to the Republican presidential nominee 16 times out of 17 election campaigns (only in the 1996 election, incumbent president Bill Clinton beat Republican nominee Bob Dole by a small, 2% gap), Biden even leads Trump in the polls. According to these figures, only a miracle would seem to leave Trump in the White House for a second term as US president.
In conclusion, it appears that Biden’s apparent victory in the US presidential election in November should not arouse much concern in Jerusalem. The likelihood that the United States under the leadership of Biden would become hostile to Israel is unrealistic. Nevertheless, it would be better for Jerusalem to internalize that the Biden era in the White House is an inevitable reality.
Hence, Israel must utilize the time left until the US elections to conduct unilateral measures on the ground supported by the Trump administration, such as applying sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and settlements blocs, in order to secure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.
Otherwise, a decision to wait with the plan until after the November presidential election could result in its suspension due to opposition from the new US administration under Biden.
So it is essential to act sooner rather than never.
The writer is a PhD candidate and research assistant at the International Center for Policing and Security at the University of South Wales, UK.