It seems a long time ago that the United States took a lead role in promoting peace in the Middle East. Though the war between Israel and Palestine has reached a cease-fire, America has remained in the background throughout the process. It is imperative that the Joe Biden administration signal America’s return to rebuilding peace in the region.
When the Islamic organization Hamas, which has de facto control over the Palestinian territory of Gaza, launched rockets, Israel retaliated with airstrikes.
President Biden responded to the armed conflict by coming to Israel’s defense, saying that “Israel has a right to defend itself.”
Schools and hospitals were also damaged in Gaza. As the number of civilian casualties, including children, became more serious, criticism of Biden intensified, even from his own Democratic Party. This criticism pointed to the inconsistency of his position, given his harsh criticism of China’s Uighur policy from a human rights standpoint.
The Biden administration’s line of international cooperation is also not all that it seemed to be. The United Nations Security Council, unable to issue a statement due to opposition from the United States, has descended into dysfunction.
Biden’s support for Israel is, in part, due to his aim of returning to the Iran nuclear deal from which the Donald Trump administration withdrew. His recent stance is surely calculated to cause the least friction with Israel, which opposes the agreement.
The Biden administration has made what it judges to be America’s “only competitor,” China, its top priority in its foreign policy strategy, and its focus is on the Asia-Pacific region.
Conversely, the lack of motivation for a Middle East peace process that has no foreseeable resolution for the conflict is reflected in the fact that America has no dedicated peace envoy. Despite this, the United States cannot afford to be absent from the table.
The Barack Obama administration, under which Biden served as vice president, envisaged a strategy of withdrawing from the Middle East and shifting toward the growth center of Asia. However, due to the issues in Syria and action against the extremist Islamic State organization, this pivot to Asia was never completed.
If the conflict in Palestine reignites as it has recently, the United States will be left with no choice but to expend a great deal of energy there. Biden may well make the same mistakes Obama did.
The only road to peace is by acknowledging the establishment of a Palestinian state and aiming for a two-state coexistence with Israel. The previous Trump administration, one-sidedly backed Israel, effectively abandoned this vision for peace.
Now, Biden should abandon bias toward either side and fulfill the role of mediator from a truly impartial standpoint.