Israel Calls Out the Biden Administration

Israel’s national unity government, speaking with one voice, rebuffs the threat from President Biden to extend — unilaterally — recognition of a Palestinian Arab state.

AP/Tsafrir Abayov
An Israeli soldier weeps for a paratrooper who was killed in action in the Gaza Strip during his funeral at a military cemetery. AP/Tsafrir Abayov

The unanimous vote Sunday by Israel’s government against the Biden administration’s scheme to recognize unilaterally a Palestinian Arab state is an act of reason and principle at a precarious juncture in the Mideast. “Such a recognition in the wake of the October 7 massacre would grant a huge, unprecedented reward to terrorism and prevent any future peace accord,” Prime Minister Netanyahu warned. His logic is grasped by the whole national unity government. Many other Israelis, too. 

The statement by the full government says: “Israel outright rejects international dictates regarding a final status agreement with the Palestinians. The agreement, insofar as it will be reached, will be solely through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions.” This is not a new position. It has obtained in both Israel and America for years, until President Biden started haranguing the Israelis in the middle of the current war.

A leading political rival of Mr. Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, says that “pathway to peace is not through one-sided recognition of a Palestinian state.” This will happen “through facilitating a long-term process that will consolidate a regional architecture facing the Iranian axis of terror and by advancing international arrangements that will improve the life of people through the region and promote stability and peace.”

All this, we don’t mind saying, is appreciated by those of us who see President Biden as having taken a dark turn as the Jewish state presses its attack against Hamas. Mr. Biden did a fine job in voicing support for Israel in the early days of the battle. That, however, has given way to second-guessing Israel’s military strategy, issuing calls for restraint, pressing for a cease-fire, and dickering about Israel’s future when Israel isn’t in the room.

Evidence of a turn is abundant. Mr. Biden eventually called Israel’s response to the worst murder of Jews since the Holocaust “over the top.” Channel 13 reports that Secretary Blinken told Mr. Netanyahu that for the rest of the premier’s life he will “think about the thousands of children who were killed in Gaza.” One of Mr. Biden’s aides met with Muslim leaders at Dearborn and confessed to “missteps” and a “wholly inadequate public accounting.” 

That’s no way for an ally to act. It reminds us all too much of 1938, when the Czech ambassador in London, Jan Masaryk, learning of the negotiations at Munich from which the Czechs were excluded, declared, “If you have sacrificed my nation for the sake of peace, I will be the first to applaud you. But if not gentlemen, then God help your souls.” Israel’s statement this morning represents a blunt warning that the Jewish state is unwilling to be taken for granted.

It’s all too clear, after all, that President Biden is trying to appease the left wing of the Democratic Party and exploit the catastrophe of October 7 for political gains at home. This is a context in which Mr. Netanyahu’s statement can be seen as a remarkable display of character at a time when Hamas is holding 132 Jews hostage. It rebuffs a gamble by the enemy that it can extract a margin of victory from the calamity Hamas has visited on the Arabs in Gaza.

That calamity, more broadly, has brought the left wing of the Democratic Party to something close to madness. To appease this flank of his own party, — cynical election year politics — Mr. Biden is balancing his condemnation of Hamas’s atrocities with violence alleged against Jewish residents at the West Bank. Four of these settlers have been sanctioned by the administration — to applause from some on the ever-shrinking Israeli left.

That amounts to a pronouncement by the Biden administration of no confidence in Israel’s justice system. That system deals as effectively as America’s with violence. So for the administration in Washington to impose remote-controlled punishment, without due process, on alleged law-breakers is a calculated insult. It is what one does to non-democratic foes, not to America’s closest Mideast ally. It raises the question of just what are Mr. Biden’s intentions.

This editorial has been expanded from the bulldog edition.

The New York Sun

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