The Biden Administration is Resurrecting the Worst of Obama’s Middle East Policies

SKIP ASH, ACLJ

The French have a saying: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” which roughly translates into English as, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” We’re seeing this principle being lived out before our eyes. The newly ensconced Biden Administration appears to be reinstituting just about everything wrong from the Obama Administration, from the job-killing anti-energy policies of the Obama years to projecting weakness to our adversaries abroad to advancing failed green energy, economic, and immigration policies driven by left-wing progressive ideologues who have little if any understanding with respect to how economies and societies grow and thrive.

Of particular concern to me is the way President Biden seeks to reengage with the Palestinians and their corrupt leaders. From the mid-60s on, every U.S. Administration up until the Trump Administration, whether Democrat or Republican, in effect pursued policies that appeased the Palestinians and forgave unforgivable Palestinian transgressions against Israelis without getting anything in return.

Under the previous—soon to be reinstated—policies, Palestinians had no incentive to negotiate a deal with Israel. Instead, despite every unprovoked and unlawful Palestinian attack on Israel and its citizens, it was Israel which was blamed. The Palestinians paid little if any price for their actions.

President Trump recognized that Palestine had no incentive to negotiate with Israel and that the Palestinian strategy of inertia was the ultimate reason no progress was being made to achieve the peace that both sides claimed they were seeking. Hence, he decided to provide incentives to the Palestinians to get on with negotiating a settlement. President Trump recognized that the status quo benefited no one and decided that the United States would push the process forward.

Among the things President Trump did was to present a detailed peace plan proposal for consideration by Palestinian and Israeli authorities as well as to recognize the reality that Jerusalem was indeed the capital of Israel. In that latter light, whereas his predecessors in office had all given lip service to U.S. law regarding Jerusalem, President Trump complied with long-standing U.S. law calling for the relocation of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. These initiatives appear to be critical acts that broke the logjam in the Middle East.

Despite howls of protest and forecasts by U.S. and foreign diplomats and regional “experts” that President Trump’s actions would set the region on fire, his actions actually led to an unprecedented opening of the region to new realities. Those realities included political recognition by Arab states of the State of Israel, the realization by Arab states that it was not Israel which was destabilizing the region militarily but rather Iran and its proxies, and the realization by more and more Arab states that it was Palestinian intransigence that was overall responsible for the failures to achieve both peace between Palestinians and Israel as well as an independent Palestinian state.

Concerning this latter point, the Trump Administration had also decided to stop sending U.S. tax dollars to corrupt Palestinian politicians and organizations because they were using much of the money, not to build up Palestinian society and infrastructure, but to pay families of terrorists serving sentences in Israeli prisons, thereby mitigating the costs to those who committed terrorism against Israelis and, in fact, acting as an incentive for future bad acts.

Now, the Biden Administration has decided to return to the bad old days of rewarding the Palestinians for their intransigence by restarting the flow of money to them. This cannot bode well for progress in the Middle East.

Further, many of the persons from the Obama Administration who negotiated the moronic nuclear deal with Iran are being appointed to key positions in the Biden Administration. This level of naïveté is exasperating not only to those who appreciated the real successes being achieved in the region pursuant to the Trump Administration policies, but also to Arab countries in the region who cannot fathom how blind the new Administration appears to be to Iranian wrongdoing throughout the region.

We at the ACLJ are committed to stand up for our ally Israel wherever we can. The Biden Administration is exhibiting most of the weaknesses of the Obama Administration without any of President Obama’s strengths. Accordingly, we who stand for morality and the rule of law must all remain vigilant in the coming days and months.

To that end, in the coming days, we are sending a letter to the incoming president of the U.N. Security Council (which is the representative of the United Kingdom in February) outlining some of the dangers and legal fallacies involved in the Obama-Biden-U.N. appeasement strategy that is attempting to illegally (under international law) bestow the title of statehood on the Palestinians without requiring any of the previously negotiated and agreed-to requirements be met. You can read more about our legal arguments here.


Robert W. “Skip” Ash is a Senior Counsel at the ACLJ and at the ECLJ. Ash heads the ACLJ’s national security practice. As such, he deals daily with legal issues concerning Believers in the U.S. Armed Forces, with issues regarding the Law of Armed Conflict worldwide, with issues before the International Criminal Court, with issues before the United Nations and its agencies, and with issues before other international courts in Europe. Ash is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, who served 22 years on active duty as a U.S. Army officer. His service included serving as NATO desk officer in the War Plans division of the Army Staff as well as a military strategist for the Secretary of Defense in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Plans in the Pentagon. Ash is also one of the founders of the Centre for the Study of Law & Public Policy at Oxford. He currently serves as Secretary of the Centre at Oxford. A graduate of Regent University School of Law, Ash has also served as a member of the faculties of the School of Law and the Robertson School of Government at Regent University where he taught courses on national security law, public international law, comparative law, First Amendment law, business associations, and legal research and writing.


Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.


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