Remain Strong

Trump may be popular in Israel, but Biden is no less a friend.

AMERICAN AND ISRAELI flags fly during a demonstration in support of Israel at the US Capitol in 2002. (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
AMERICAN AND ISRAELI flags fly during a demonstration in support of Israel at the US Capitol in 2002.
Whatever happens in Tuesday’s American presidential election, one thing is certain: The US and Israel will surely maintain their close relationship based on shared values and interests.
Advocates for US President Donald Trump’s reelection and supporters of Democratic candidate Joe Biden have long lists of reasons why each is a better candidate when it comes to Israel.
But no matter which way one leans, one element that’s paramount is that both candidates support the Jewish State.
Trump checked off many items on Israel supporters’ wish lists, including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, recognizing Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights and changing US policy so settlements would not be viewed as automatically illegal. His administration fostered the Abraham Accords and brokered peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. He also helped Israel normalize relations with Sudan, ushering in an era in which the Arab League’s “three nos” declared in Khartoum in 1967 - no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel and no peace with Israel - have become increasingly irrelevant and the Palestinians no longer have veto power over Israel’s ties with nations of the region. Trump also pulled the US out of the Iran deal, which had given the mullahs of Tehran a path to a nuclear weapon that would be a threat to Israel and the world.
As long as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains in office, Trump is perceived by many Israelis as an easier president for the Israeli government to face. Netanyahu and Trump appear to be in sync on many policy issues, and the Trump administration has had a “no daylight” policy, keeping any disagreements – such as on Israel using Chinese companies to build vital infrastructure – relatively quiet.
The Biden campaign has said the former vice president’s style is also to keep disagreements between allies, such as Israel, behind the scenes and to maintain a publicly united front. Still, he and Netanyahu have a drastically different view on settlements and Biden has said that he would want to try and find a way to get the Iran deal back on track, an accord that Netanyahu fought with every diplomatic and political weapon in his arsenal in 2015.
But anyone who is concerned about confrontations between Netanyahu or any other potential Israel prime minister with Biden should be reassured by the former vice president’s record, going back nearly 50 years. He has decades of voting in support of Israel in the US Senate, including for the bill to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. He has met with every Israeli prime minister going back to Golda Meir, and passes what has become known as the “kishke test” – the understanding, in his gut, why Israel is important to the Jewish people.
“My father would say, were he a Jew, he would never, never entrust the security of his people to any individual nation, no matter how good and how noble it was, like the United States,” Biden once said. Biden is a strong advocate of a two-state solution, out of a concern for keeping Israel Jewish and democratic. As various Obama administration alumni memoirs have shown, vice president Biden often pushed back on then-president Barack Obama’s pressure on Israel.
Netanyahu and other Israeli officials should keep this in mind, as well, if a President Biden is sworn in to office in January.
As Netanyahu himself said last month, after he was asked if he felt Trump put him on the spot asking if “Sleepy Joe” could have brokered normalization between Israel and Sudan, bipartisan support for Israel in the US is very important, and he has worked with and had disagreements with Republican and Democrat US presidents. Netanyahu expressed hope that regardless of who wins, he will be able to work together to continue the policies that brought three Arab states to make peace with Israel.
This is the correct attitude for Netanyahu and Israelis to have. Trump may be popular in Israel, but Biden is no less a friend.
That is why no matter who wins Tuesday’s election, the next president will be an ally of Israel who will strengthen the US-Israel relationship for the next four years.