I was one of those who concluded very early on that there is little difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. I still believe this to be true. Although Biden talked a lot during his election campaign about the nuclear deal with Iran, the relationship with China, the issue of Palestine and Saudi Arabia, there is no tangible difference between his policies and Trump's, at least on those topics.
Many Palestinians believed that Biden would reverse Trump's decisions, such as his relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israeli-occupied Jerusalem; his closure of the US Consulate in the holy city, which served as the US embassy in Palestine; his suspension of US donations to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA); and the closure of the PLO office in Washington in 2018 as a punishment for the Palestinians who dared to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court. Trump also worked towards compelling Israel to accept the long advocated two-state solution preferred by the US. However, no reversals have been seen, apart from the resumption of around 50 per cent of the UNRWA donations.
In fact, Biden has complemented Trump's plans to strengthen the state of Israel which has been defying UN resolutions and occupying Palestinian land since 1948. His scheduled visit to the Middle East next month is intended to integrate Israel with the rest of the region: the Arab world. He hopes to expand the Negev Summit held in March to include more Arab states alongside Israel, the US, Morocco, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain, and make it a permanent platform.
According to US media, Biden wants to convince two more Arab countries to normalise their relations with Israel in the context of confronting Iranian ambitions in the region. Just as Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner devised the so-called "Abraham Accords" that undermine Palestinian interests and embolden Israel's defiance of international law, Biden is working on the Abraham Accords II, this time with a Democratic rather than an evangelical flavour.
The last thing that Washington needs now is another war, especially as the situation in Ukraine is still open to all options. Biden's move in the region is probably not intended to start a war against Iran. Rather it will seek to install Israel as the US-commissioned master and protector of the region, under the pretext of standing against Iran, which is presumed to have been working for the past three decades on developing a nuclear weapon.
Moreover, Biden is serving the interests of Israel's foreign minister and incoming prime minister, Yair Lapid, hoping to boost his popularity by adding some accomplishments to his record. Lapid is so popular with the Americans that Time magazine ranked him among the 100 most influential people in the world. Washington is fed up with Netanyahu's arrogance and his attempt to meddle in US politics, so is ready to support anyone rather than him, even if it is temporarily the more radical Naftali Bennett. The perfect choice would be Lapid, with his slippery words and smiling face.
It is this policy which pushed Netanyahu aside and replaced him with far-right religious Zionists. The result is that Bennett's coalition government has all but collapsed. With yet another General Election in the offing, will it bring forward an Israeli prime minister acceptable to US tastes? If so, will it last? Israeli governments tend to get shorter with every election. Will the US strategy help Lapid stay in office?
Every politician in Israel today believes that he or she is entitled to govern, and all are keen to do whatever is necessary to that end. Unlike Israel's founding generation who were persecuted in the countries from which they came, allowing them to overcome their differences to build their safe haven, the current generation was generally born in Israel which continues to act as if it is above international law and beyond question.
Ironically, while Biden is trying to boost Netanyahu's opponents, at home he is ridiculed widely for his mental and physical problems, which could jeopardise his political future. In the entirely possible case that Trump could win the next US presidential election, Netanyahu could well also stage a comeback, as he still retains the most seats held by a single party in the Israeli parliament; the Knesset. While America was busy saving Israel from itself, it is becoming highly polarised and divided. Just like their Israeli counterparts, many US politicians and intellectuals foresee a dark future for North America if this continues.
Biden himself symbolises the decline of the US as a superpower. While appearing to be powerful and wise, his mind and body seem to be failing him. Retired General and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak has said that Israel should not fear Iran, it should fear its own internal political differences. After all, who needs enemies with such leaders and friends?
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.