It is only two and a half months since Joe Biden was inaugurated president of the United States, but it is already clear that as far as the Middle East in general and Israel in particular are concerned, the Biden administration is going to be a repeat of the Obama administration: that is, continued close military and intelligence coordination but divergent political and diplomatic policies and practices. So far the new administration has done the following:
1. Reversed the sanctions on ICC officials that were imposed because of the indictment of Israel for human rights violations.
2. Rejoined the UN Human Rights Commission, which is made up largely of major human rights violators.
3. Announced the resumption of payments to the Palestinian Authority in direct violation of the Taylor Force Act, as well as donations to UNRWA.
4. Downgraded relations with Saudi Arabia, both militarily and diplomatically.
5. Most importantly, and dangerously, it has moved rapidly to reestablish relations with Iran, despite that country's continued preparations for a nuclear capacity, extensive interference in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, continued support of terrorist movements such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and cyber-interference with Western institutions and elections, not to mention numerous violations of its own citizens' human rights.
In the meantime, rather than getting its political act together to confront this challenge along with all the others it faces, Israel seems to be hurtling towards yet another election in a few months, the fifth in two and half years, during which time it has not had a fully-functioning government. The dangers of such a situation are manifold and manifest. Let's hope and pray that before long Israel will have a functioning government.
Dr. Norman Bailey is professor of Economic Statecraft at the Galilee International Management Institute, and adjunct professor at the Institute of World Politics, Washington DC. Dr. Bailey was a senior staff member of the National Security Council during the Reagan administration and of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during the George W. Bush administration.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 11, 2021
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