In light of accelerating regional and international crises, US President Joe Biden went on his first Middle Eastern tour since he took office last Wednesday. And, of course, the voices of both American analysts and White House spokespeople came out to explain the importance of this visit and to confirm the good intentions of the US towards the Middle East.
The expectations of Arab political analysts have also increased, as they expected that the purpose of the visit is that the Biden administration aims to restore warmth in relations with the countries of the region after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and the relented American positions towards Iran and its interference in the region and the failure of the administration to take any actual steps regarding its repeated promise in Palestine regarding the two-state solution.
On the eve of Biden’s visit to Israel, everyone expected that Biden — the Democratic president — would publicly denounce the policy of building Israeli settlements, an encroachment that would eliminate any glimmer of hope to revive the two-state solution that he claims he is trying to achieve.
This is especially so since just a few weeks before Biden was officially inaugurated, the occupation authorities announced a tender to build 1,257 new settlement units on the lands of Beit Safaf, south of occupied Jerusalem. The danger of these new settlements is that they will create a real barrier between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the south, thus undermining the two-state solution once and for all.
Despite this, and against all expectations, Biden’s words and statements at the joint press conference with the Israeli Prime Minister were shameful and even scandalous to a large extent.
Biden emphasised since the beginning of the conference that his love and affection for Israel are deep. He continued by saying: “For 50 years, I have witnessed the development of Israel, which was like a miracle.”
“We look forward to a special relationship with your neighbourhood, and Israel can make peace, and Washington will always stand by you.”
He also noted that “Israel and the US relied on hope for the path of their construction.”
The Israeli Prime Minister then praised Biden’s support for Israel over the years, ignoring the Palestinian issue completely. At the same time, Biden referred to the two-state solution and the need to return to negotiations shortly, which is quite blatant for a democratic president who claims that he has a pro-peace and pro-human rights agenda.
Even the “Jerusalem Declaration” document in which the US pledges to enhance security for Israel and grant it the right to defend itself and ensure its prosperity, as well as pledge to work to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, evasively included the Palestinian issue.
The document includes a brief clause on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without talking about a future vision or specific demands that pave the way for peace negotiations or a specific settlement.
Clearly, and regardless of the US analyses that this visit came within the framework of the current US administration’s keenness on its relations with the Middle East, this visit came for three main reasons — securing oil, creating an alliance against the Iranian incursion, and most importantly to save Biden in the upcoming elections.
Indeed, this round comes ahead of the mid-term congressional elections scheduled for November in an attempt to restore Biden’s popularity, which polls revealed is dwindling by the day.
For this reason, all these statements and guarantees for Israel were to appease the Jewish lobby inside the US fundamentally, regardless of any other long-term goals. This is especially after AIPAC — one of the most important Jewish lobbies in the US — announced the formation of a huge political action committee to support the Republican candidates in the upcoming elections.
Thus, the scene within the states began, in a sudden shift, moving in the opposite direction against Biden and in favour of Trump in particular, with the AIPAC deciding just a few months ago to provide active and public support to Israel’s most trusted friends. And undoubtedly, what is meant here are the fiercest supporters of former President Donald Trump in the Republican Party.
Moreover, the AIPAC funded 109 of the 147 Republican representatives in Congress, all of whom refused to endorse Joe Biden.
The organisation did not stop at providing enormous support to the extreme right candidates only, but the lobby refused to provide its support to the Republicans who did not meet under the banner of Trump, who succeeded in diverting the course of the Palestinian cause to a large extent — even if they were loyal supporters of Israel — especially in light of the opposition of the democratic left to the policies of the Israelis against the Palestinians. Because of this unprecedented support, many analysts expect the Republicans to win majority seats in the House and Senate.
In short, the main objective of Biden’s visit to the Middle East is the Jerusalem Declaration and to pledge his fealty and support for Israel in order to secure immediate personal gain in the upcoming elections, even if there are other important reasons such as oil.
Biden declared, during this visit, that he can benefit Israel, strengthen its position, and appropriately eliminate the Palestinian cause in a way better than what his arch-rival Trump would.
*Dr. Marwa El-Shinawy is an Assistant Professor at the International American University for Specialised Studies (IAUS)