It is hard to be against a peace agreement. Really hard. But the Biden Administration is giving it a go.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki slammed Donald Trump’s policies in the Middle East and called the Israel-United Arab Emirates-Bahrain Abraham Accords “DOA.”
“We felt there was not a constructive action by the prior administration, aside from putting forward a peace proposal that was dead on arrival. We don’t think they did anything constructive really to bring it into the long-standing conflict in the Middle East.”
Psaki appears to be channeling Washington Post columnist Max Boot. “The clashes in recent days between Israelis and Palestinians make clear that there is no ‘peace’ and no ‘new Middle East.’ It remains the same blood-soaked mess as ever. The Abraham Accords were nice, but they did nothing to resolve underlying conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Libya—or the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”
It is understandable that critics choose not to consider the accords in their own context. Yemen, Syria, and Libya weren’t on the table. Neither was world hunger, relief for China’s Uighurs, or the U.S. national debt. And, deliberately, neither were the Palestinians.
In the immediate aftermath of the September 2020 signing, a horde of pundits and politicians including Samantha Power, John Kerry, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), and media including Reuters, CNN, The New Yorker, Foreign Policy, the Guardian and more, spewed their litany about how much more dangerous the region had become and how the United States was doomed to fail. They are joined now by Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (again), and others.
They are wrong.
The Abraham Accords arose in part from the debacle of the Obama Administration’s Arab Spring policies: Egypt, Libya, and wars since then that killed tens of thousands, wrecked industry, fueled the migrant crisis, and provided weapons for ISIS and al-Qaeda. In Syria, the promise of the Spring encouraged the uprising that led to the civil war (in which the United States supported and armed militias that it did not understand) that killed more than 600,000 people, displaced more than half of the Syrian population, and included the use of poison gas. Much of this was funded by Iran’s largesse, which was partially American largesse.
Obama’s policies frightened governments around the region. The Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan didn’t want to be like Syria, if they had a choice. They did.
Since the accords (plus agreements with Morocco and Sudan, and air overflight agreements with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) were signed, Israel and its new partners have enjoyed various levels of political, social, and financial engagement, while Israel and Jews find themselves broadly accepted as an integral part of the Middle East for the first time. There is nothing quite like the establishment of the Bet Din (Jewish Court) of Arabia to make the point.
There were also two broad regional security changes engendered by the Accords, both anathema to the Biden Administration and its minions. First, Iran now faces formidable opposition in its quest for regional hegemony; and second, the Gulf State leaders chose the national interests and needs of their people over Palestinian intransigence and corruption.
The Biden Administration set a two-pronged strategy to undermine the Accords and its parties and return to the halcyon days of the Obama Administration, the JCPOA and the “two-state solution.”
First, negotiations with Iran are designed to restore funds to the Islamic Republic, though the mullahs are likely to do the same thing with the money as before.
Second, the administration restored funding to the Palestinian Authority, despite its ongoing incitement of violence against Israelis and continued payments to Palestinian terrorists and their families in violation of the American Taylor Force Act. The administration also resurrected the Obama Administration’s failed policy of pressuring Israel to pay the Palestinians in hopes of changing the fundamental Palestinian rejection of Jewish nationhood. (To be fair, just a little, every U.S. administration has put the Palestinians in the middle of the quest for regional peace. And to be fair, they all were wrong.)
Relief from American political pressure on Iran, and the hope of relief from financial pressure, emboldened Iran and its proxy Hamas. The evident desire of the Biden Administration to engage the Palestinian Authority regardless of its behavior emboldened Mahmoud Abbas to incite further acts of violence against Israelis. And, seeking political control of Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, Hamas began a criminal aerial bombardment of Israeli cities and towns with Iranian-provided weapons. Hamas is committing war crimes knowing full well it can’t win but believing that ultimately the administration will ask “both sides” for restraint, as Obama used to do.
This Biden Administration policy—not the civil suit against squatters who refuse to pay rent to Jewish landlords in Jerusalem or a failed “peace process”—is the underpinning of the current Hamas war against Israel. And as such, it is Israeli-Palestinian peace, or even a modus vivendi, that is “dead on arrival.”