Yoram Ettinger
Yoram Ettinger Courtesy

A major goal of President Biden's July, 2022 visit to the Middle East – in addition to increasing the Saudi and Emirati oil production – is the restoration of the US stature as a reliable strategic ally of the pro-US Arab regimes, and stop their drift toward Russia and China.

At the same time, Biden pursues a JCPOA-like agreement with Iran's Ayatollahs and embraces the Muslim Brotherhood.

However, the attempt to restore the US' strategic reliability, while aiming for a JCPOA-like accord with Iran's Ayatollahs and embracing the Muslim Brotherhood, constitutes a contradiction in terms, since all pro-US Arab regimes view Iran's Ayatollahs and the Muslim Brotherhood as lethal threats. Moreover, they are convinced that a JCPOA-like accord would bolster (as did the 2015 JCPOA) the Ayatollahs' regional and global subversion, terrorism, fueling of civil wars, drug trafficking, money laundering and the proliferation of advanced military systems to rogue entities in the Middle East and beyond.

They are also frustrated by the State Department's underestimation of the fanatic vision of the Muslim Brotherhood, and taking lightly its terror network throughout the Middle East and beyond (e.g., India and Thailand).

Contrary to President Biden and the State Department establishment, the pro-US Arab regimes are fully aware that Iran's Ayatollahs are not amenable to peaceful coexistence with their Arab Sunni neighbors; neither to abandoning their fanatic, religious, imperialistic vision in return for a financial and diplomatic bonanza; nor to compliance with agreements. They have concluded that the rogue 43-year-old track record of Iran's Ayatollahs – since rising to power in February 1979 – is irreconcilable with good-faith negotiation.

The visit may awaken Biden and Secretary of State Blinken – who have prodded Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt on account of human rights and their involvement in the Iran-fueled civil war in Yemen - to Middle East reality. The visit may alert them to the fact that the choice facing the US is not between Arab countries, which respect or violate human rights, but between pro-US and anti-US Arab countries, which violate human rights.

President Biden's visit will reaffirm the return of the State Department – since January 2021 - to the center stage of US foreign policy-making, as it was until January 2017, notwithstanding Foggy Bottom's systematic blunders in the Middle East.

For example, the State Department opposed the Abraham Accords, which were forged in defiance of its (Palestinian-centered) Middle East perspective. Thus, the Abraham Accords were concluded because their architects recognized the secondary role of the Palestinian Arab issue in the Middle East. Therefore, they did not focus on the Palestinian Arab issue, but on Arab national security and economic interests, in the face of lethal Iranian and Muslim Brotherhood threats, and the need to diversify/modernize the economy of the oil-producing countries.

The Abraham Accords - similar to Israel's prior peace accords with Egypt and Jordan and consistent with intra-Arab priorities - bypassed the Palestinian Arab issue, and therefore, avoided a Palestinian Arab veto. On the other hand, the State Department establishment has ignored the wide gap between the Arab (supportive) talk and (harsh) walk on the Palestinian Arab issue. Therefore, it has misconstrued that issue as the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a core cause of Middle East turbulence and a crown-jewel of Arab policy-makers. Therefore, all State Department Israel-Arab peace proposals have failed, wrecked on the rocks of Middle East reality.

Hence, the attempt to expand the scope of the Israel-Arab peace process, on the one hand, and the State Department's preoccupation with the Palestinian Arab issue, on the other hand, constitute a thundering oxymoron.

When assessing the validity of State Department proposals, which may be submitted during President Biden's visit, Israel should study additional examples of critical State Department blunders, such as its early embrace of Ayatollah Khomeini, Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat and Bashar Assad, as well as Foggy Bottom's reference to the eruption of the 2010-2011 turbulence/Tsunami on the Arab Street (which is still raging) as "Youth and Facebook Revolution" and "the Arab Spring."

-In 1948, the State Department ferociously opposed the establishment of the Jewish State, which it expected to be pro-Soviet, too weak to withstand Arab military offensive, undermining US national security interests and a burden for the US.

-In 1981 and 2007 the State Department brutally attempted to stop, and then condemned, Israel's bombing of Iraq's and Syria's nuclear reactors, which spared the US, the Middle East and the world at-large much devastation.

*President Biden may attempt to impose upon Israel a quid-pro-quo – consistent with the State Department's "Palestine Firsters" – requiring Israeli concessions to the Palestinian Arabs, in return for enhanced strategic cooperation with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries (which regard Palestinian Arabs as a role model of intra-Arab subversion, terrorism and ingratitude).

*President Biden and Secretary Blinken should be reminded that concessions to rogue entities whet their appetite and intensifies terrorism, as documented by the unprecedented waves of Palestinian terrorism following Israel's dramatic concessions in 1993 (Oslo Accord) and 2005 (disengagement from the Gaza Strip). Furthermore, Egypt (1950s), Syria (1966), Jordan (1970), Lebanon (1970s) and Kuwait (1990) made major civic and financial concessions to the Palestinians, which resulted in Palestinian terrorism against their Arab hosts, including civil wars in Jordan and Lebanon and Palestinian participation in Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

*President Biden will try to convince Israel to concede the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria (aka 'West Bank') and allow the establishment of a Palestinian state. President Biden should be advised that based on the Palestinian Authority rogue track record, a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would doom the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the River. It would be replaced by a radical, anti-US regime, triggering an anti-US ripple effect into the Arabian Peninsula, toppling pro-US Arab regimes, transferring the supply of Persian Gulf oil to anti-US entities, and bolstering the geo-strategic stature of Iran's Ayatollahs, Russia and China at the expense of dire US interests.

Israeli control of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria deters rogue entities and advances US interests; the proposed Palestinian state would radicalize the region, undermining US interests.

*Israel will be asked to authorize a US Consulate in Jerusalem, acting as the US Embassy to the Palestinian Authority. Such a demand would be in violation of the US 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which defines Jerusalem as the undivided and exclusive capital of Israel. It would be interpreted – regionally and globally – as succumbing to Arab/Muslim pressure, thus further eroding the US posture of deterrence.

*When considering President Biden's demands for Israeli concessions, Israel's Prime Minister Lapid should study the conduct of previous Israeli Prime Ministers, who fended off US Presidential pressure, experienced a short-term setback in the US-Israel relationship, but gained in long-term US strategic respect for defiance of odds and adherence to a principle-driven stance.

*While expressing much respect to President Biden and Secretary Blinken and their demands, Israeli leaders should realize that the US democracy features Congress as a co-equal, co-determining branch of government, the most authentic representative of the American people, the most powerful legislature in the world, which has the power to both propose and dispose in the areas of foreign and defense policies, and has expressed its deep reservations with regard to US policy on Iran (e.g., Democratic Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Robert Menendez' February 2022 floor speech). While most US Presidents have pressured Israel, Congress has been a systematic supporter of enhancing the mutually-beneficial US-Israel strategic and commercial cooperation.
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Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger is the author of "Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative"
https://bit.ly/3O0lQj7 He will be available for speaking engagements in the US during August 25 - September 20, 2022: