Netanyahu and Biden
Netanyahu and BidenAmos ben Gershom

Yedioth Ahronot's Itamar Eichner published an op-ed today (Thursday, Nov 11) discussing the pros and cons of a possible Biden administration and its relations towards Israel. Eichner pointed out that while the Democratic Party hopeful has a long history of relatively cordial relations with PM Netanyahu, he played an instrumental role in passing the anti-settlement UN Security Council Resolution 2334 on December 23, 2016, as a "token parting shot" before Trump took office.

With votes in a number of battleground states including Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia still being tallied, Eichner said Biden would likely turn his focus to righting the coronavirus crisis and civil unrest in America before trying his hand to "bring peace to the Middle East," but pointed out that a number of senior Obama-era diplomats with less than stellar records on Israel would likely fill senior roles in his administration.

Eichner specifically named Biden's visit to Israel in March of 2010, during which former Minister of Construction Eli Yishai announced approval of 1,600 housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, as a thorn in the side of a Biden administration. The move was perceived as an attempt by the Israeli government to undermine Biden's standing.

A New York Times report from 2010 states that while Biden began his visit by "asserting the Obama administration’s 'absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel’s security,' "by the end of the day, Mr. Biden’s tone had a very different quality. He issued a statement condemning 'the substance and timing of the announcement' of the housing, and added, 'Unilateral action taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations on permanent status issues,'" claiming Yishai's announcement "[ran] counter to the constructive discussions that I’ve had here in Israel."

Eichner further stated that Netanyahu's address to the American Congress in 2015, calling on congressional leaders to demand changes to Obama's Iran Nuclear Deal, may well prove a festering wound in the minds of Biden associates such as former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice and U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro.

Eichner concludes his article by stating that while "Biden's approach to U.S.-Israel relations may be more level-headed, Israeli moves viewed as counter-productive to U.S. interests in the region such as settlement expansion and annulment of the "Two-State Solution" will not go over quietly. "Within the Biden camp, there is still a lot of anger at Netanyahu over his treatment of the Obama versus Trump administrations," points out the Yedioth Aharonot writer.