Most considered it a fool’s errand when President Biden turned on Israel in the Gaza War after a period of fulsome support after Oct. 7. His motivation was said to be to appeal to Arab-American voters and calm the rampaging students disrupting campuses across the U.S. He was determined to avoid the fate of Hubert Humphrey in 1968 when anti-Vietnam War demonstrations against his boss President Lyndon Johnson in the run-up to the Democratic convention that year handed the November election to Richard Nixon.

But Mr. Biden was dismissed as coming up with too little too late. Arab voters were said to already be too far alienated and the students too impressed by their ability to generate headlines.


Yet it now seems he may well have had something truly transformative in mind after all. We are hearing more and more about how the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are making substantial progress in fashioning a security agreement between the two countries featuring Saudi normalization with Israel and Palestinian statehood as two of its centerpieces.

While the Saudis early on in the process – which began about two years ago – did not insist on Israeli acceptance of the notion of a Palestinian state as a necessary condition, President Biden did. Apparently, the Saudis were primarily interested in a U.S.-Saudi mutual defense pact, help with a civilian nuclear program, the sale of American-made weapons, a trade deal with the U.S. – as well as to be able to tap into Israeli industry, technology and military and economic strength.

In fact, the Saudis made it plain in several different ways that the Palestinian issue was not high on their agenda and they certainly were not going to continue to allow the Palestinians to have a veto over their moving forward with Israeli normalization.

But President Biden kept the connection alive. And the Oct. 7 Hamas onslaught – said by many to have been triggered by a fear of Palestinian marginalization – and the ensuing Gaza War upended the calculus and brought the Saudis over to President Biden’s side on the statehood issue.

At all events, as the New York Times is reporting, the U.S. now is emphatic that Israel must agree to a Palestinian state for any agreement to be finalized, quoting the White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan: “The integrated vision is a bilateral understanding between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia combined with normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia combined with meaningful steps on behalf of the Palestinian people…all of this has to come together.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu, who continues to strongly reject calls for the creation of a Palestinian state out of the realistic expectation that it would become a “terrorist haven” and also because most Israelis also oppose it according to polls, is coming under increasing pressure not to pass on the potential security cooperation with Saudi Arabia that could counter Iran, their shared adversary and also end Israel’s isolation in the region.

This many-layered conundrum tailor-made for President Biden who has played it to a fare-thee-well. He hopes to draw the Arab-American community and its campus acolytes to his camp by delivering a Palestinian state. And he would also hope to ingratiate himself with many Jewish voters by brokering Israel’s acceptance in its dangerous neighborhood.

To be sure, the Palestinian capacity for savagery as exemplified by Oct. 7 tells us that the President’s vision is so much pie-in-the-sky and woefully off the mark. Would that it were not.

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