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January 24, 2021 7:32 am

A Peaceful Middle East Is Good for the United States

avatar by James Sinkinson / JNS.org

Opinion

A worker on a crane hangs a US flag next to an Israeli flag near the site of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun.

JNS.orgIsrael is without dispute one of the United States’ strongest allies worldwide. Diplomatically, no other country has sided with the United States on critical issues at the United Nations more consistently than Israel.

What’s more, Israel and the United States share deeply held moral values based on Judeo-Christian roots. Both countries stand unalterably committed to democratic principles, rule of law, and civil liberties for their citizens. No wonder the friendship between Israel and the United States runs deep — in economic partnerships, strategic cooperation, military collaboration, humanitarian assistance, and cultural ties.

Moreover, the Israel-US relationship remains supported by Americans at all levels and differing views and ideologies. For many decades, support for Israel has been a bipartisan issue, where both Democrats and Republicans have agreed on the importance of these close relations.

Despite a trend among the so-called “progressive” wing of Joe Biden’s party to regard Israel with disfavor, nearly 70% of Americans support the Jewish state (compared to the Palestinian Authority). Indeed, Biden himself has long been a staunch supporter of Israel. As Biden assumes the presidency, his administration has the opportunity to build on the powerful asset that Israel represents globally and especially in the Middle East. Above all, President Biden should protect advances made in the US-Israel relationship and the region over the past four years.

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But powerful diplomatic relationships thrive only when there are no surprises between allies, and their disagreements need to be resolved behind the scenes — not in public. For example, many of the negotiations for the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the “Iran nuclear deal,” were held without the input and knowledge of Israel, a country directly threatened by Iran’s nuclear program. If President Biden wishes to negotiate America’s reentry into the JCPOA, his administration should also respect Israel’s pressing concerns. After all, for the United States, a nuclear Iran is a strategic threat; for the Jewish state it is an existential one. Israel is our friend, Iran is our mutual enemy.

Continued recognition of Israel’s sovereignty will also serve US interests. The US Congress approved recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel and moving the US embassy there in 1995 — an intention that was only finally realized in 2017. Likewise, the Biden administration would be wise to continue US recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and the designation that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are not “illegal” or “obstacles to peace.” These are all part of Israel’s vital interests and reflect reality rather than ideology. None of these actions undertaken by the last administration resulted in the conflict that many critics predicted. Clearly, the fear of violence by the Palestinians and their allies is no reason to refrain from doing the right thing.

In addition, the US should not squander the recent momentous normalization agreements between Israel and Arab nations, known as the Abraham Accords. These agreements have been and continue to be a tremendous achievement that makes the region more peaceful and opens the doors for more Arab nations to join in and create even greater harmony and stability. While in over seven decades only two Arab nations made an official, yet cold, peace with Israel, we have now witnessed peace agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco in just a matter of months. Furthermore, with Israeli flights allowed to fly over Saudi Arabian territory and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting Oman, the Jewish state and the pragmatic Arab world are closer than ever.

President Biden would serve US interests for peace and stability in the Middle East by seeking more such agreements. A more peaceful Middle East is not just good for Israel, it is also critical for the United States in terms of security, diplomacy, and our economy.

On the Palestinian issue, we’ve seen recently that it’s possible to take a firm, realistic stance with few adverse effects. Over the decades, the Palestinian leadership has rejected countless peace offers — including those of the Obama administration — and most recently the Peace to Prosperity plan launched in January 2020. Above all, the Palestinians should no longer be rewarded or incentivized for their recalcitrance and rejectionism as other US administrations have done.

Until the Palestinians agree to end incitement, regular payments to terrorists, and their rejection of the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people, the United States would be wise to keep the Palestinians at arm’s length. Any funding and assistance the United States seeks to give the Palestinians should be given with strong conditions that it not be used for terror, incitement, or to teach descendants of Palestinian refugees the lie that millions of them will “return” to Israel.

Another way to strengthen the US-Israel bond is to fight antisemitism — and its variant, anti-Zionism — more aggressively here and abroad. It should also ensure that the anti-Israel boycott movement is thwarted, especially on campuses, legally proscribe mass boycotts against a friendly country, and work to raise awareness of Israel’s role as a friend and ally, and a bastion of human rights in a region where few can be found.

The future looks bright, and the path is clear for an American administration that wants to sustain and nurture stronger ties between Israel and the United States. In this fraught political time in both nations, the case needs to be remade by the president, members of Congress, other officials, and opinion-shapers that these ties are valuable — even priceless — for both peoples and countries.

Israel’s security directly supports US security. Our shared intelligence, defense innovation, and sharing of information have saved countless American lives and bolstered US interests. Pro-Israel activists of every affiliation should help the next administration and fellow Americans understand that the US-Israel alliance deserves vigilant protection and sustenance.

James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship with the United States.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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