Wednesday, November 25, 2020

  • Wednesday, November 25, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon

Although Joe Biden says he will not move the US Embassy back to Tel Aviv, he will definitely erase other Trump moves - re-opening the PLO office, restoring funding UNRWA, and restoring the Iran deal.

But to pretend that the last four years were just a bad dream and act like it's 2016 would be a major mistake.

Even if Biden will re-open negotiations with Iran on the JCPOA, he must not look too eager. At the moment, Iran is acting as if it is holding all the cards because of Biden's promises, and this is a major mistake - it means that Biden has no negotiating room to try to improve the deal.

The fact is that Europe remained in the deal, and Iran tested the waters by starting to violate it, more and more, to see if  Europe would do anything. They didn't. Iran learned a lesson - that the UK and France are spineless, and they think Biden will be as well.

Biden needs to get on the same page as those two countries and push back. Iran is now violating the JCPOA in multiple ways - the IAEA has lots of documentation. Iran needs to trade with Europe more than ever.  

That is leverage. 

Before the US lifts sanctions, it needs to work together with the Europeans to give a solid ultimatum - that (for example) the UK can invoke snapback unless Iran immediately stops its violations. Ballistic missiles and Iranian exports to terror groups must be on the table. If Biden caves on this, then Iran know it can push the US around for the next four years.

Similarly, Biden shouldn't abandon the Peace to Prosperity plan. Ehud Barak spoke about it in Haaretz yesterday: "When you look at it, many parts of Trump’s plan made sense, but were blocked from being really tested by our government. You have to look at the actual text of the Trump plan. I’m not talking about what the settlers probably heard during visits of the ambassador – but the text that Jared Kushner and his team put in the plan. It’s very close to what came before: holding talks on two states; realizing that you can’t impose anything on the Palestinians that they don’t want; and not imposing security compromises on Israel." 

In other words, even Israeli doves agree that the Trump plan is a framework that the US can start with because it is the first plan that is realistic about Israel's security needs and that wouldn't ethnically cleanse hundreds of thousands of Jews - which has been the starting point of all the other "peace" plans. 

I doubt that this will be a priority for Biden but he shouldn't let the Palestinians think they can turn the clock back without giving up on some of their "red lines."  And they certainly shouldn't be allowed to act like bullies, making entitled "demands" from the US. Biden can learn a little from Trump about how to respond when another country or organization wants to push the US around. 

While this is an oversimplification, before Trump, diplomats seemed more interested in smoothing ruffled feathers than hard negotiations. Donald Trump made it clear that if the US was going to give something, the other party will give something as well. And even though the old diplomats were aghast and swore up and down that this was a recipe for disaster, it achieved results. To be sure, there is something to be said about maintaining relationships. Trump could have learned something from old-school diplomacy - but professional US diplomats can learn a lot from studying Trump's dealmaking mentality.

Unfortunately, from articles they have written, it doesn't seem like they see any value in a mindset that helped bring about a sea change in the Middle East between Israel, Gulf countries and Sudan. They hate Trump so much as a person that they do not want to admit that he accomplished things they could never have done. There is no way that could have happened under the old rules.  

We need to learn that lesson, not throw it away.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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