US President Joe Biden issued a statement Thursday acknowledging the start of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s sixth Israeli government, vowing to work together with Netanyahu, who he noted has been his friend “for decades.”
Netanyahu and his coalition partners were sworn into office earlier in the day; the prime minister thus began his sixteenth year in the post.
As he did this summer, Biden’s statement also included open opposition to Israel’s basic position, that the moribund “two state solution” for peace with the Palestinian Authority is well and truly dead.
“Today, Israel’s Knesset voted to ratify a new Israeli government under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has been my friend for decades, to jointly address the many challenges and opportunities facing Israel and the Middle East region, including threats from Iran,” Biden said.
“The United States is working to promote a region that’s increasingly integrated, prosperous, and secure, with benefits for all of its people. From the start of my Administration, we have worked with partners to promote this more hopeful vision of a region at peace, including between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.
For the first time, Biden openly declared his intention to oppose any Israeli policy that he feels endangers or contradicts the goal of reaching a two-state solution, which he also decided is in Israel’s best interest to reach.
“We aim to continue this important work with Israel’s new government under Prime Minister Netanyahu’s leadership,” the president said, adding, “as we have throughout my Administration, the United States will continue to support the two state solution and to oppose policies that endanger its viability or contradict our mutual interests and values.”
Not the First Time Biden Has Disagreed with What’s Good for Israel
During his visit to Jerusalem this past July, Biden also made a point of making clear his insistence that Israel cave to Palestinian Authority demands that threaten the security of the Jewish State.
In the Jerusalem US-Israel Strategic Partnership Joint Declaration Biden adopted with then-Prime Minister Yair Lapid, the American president said he “reaffirms his longstanding and consistent support of a two-state solution and for advancing toward a reality in which Israelis and Palestinians alike can enjoy equal measures of security, freedom and prosperity.”
Though unlike in his letter to Netanyahu, Biden did not say he would oppose Israeli policies. This seems to be a first.
No Opposition Plans in His Letter to Bennett and Lapid
In fact, in his congratulatory letter to then newly-appointed Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Biden described his “unwavering support” and doesn’t even mention a two-state solution, much less opposing Israel’s policies.
“Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on the New Government of the State of Israel
On behalf of the American people, I congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and all the members of the new Israeli cabinet. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations.
Israel has no better friend than the United States. The bond that unites our people is evidence of our shared values and decades of close cooperation and as we continue to strengthen our partnership, the United States remains unwavering in its support for Israel’s security. My administration is fully committed to working with the new Israeli government to advance security, stability, and peace for Israelis, Palestinians, and people throughout the broader region.”
No One — Except Biden — Wants a 2-State Solution
It is worth noting that according to a 2021 poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, the majority of Palestinian Authority residents believe the final goal of their national movement should be the replacement of the State of Israel with a state of their own, rather than two states existing side by side in peace.
Further, a report published in 2021 by the RAND Corporation found that a majority of Israelis across the political spectrum, from left to right, oppose a two state solution.
The research conducted by RAND in July 2018 and May 2019, which made it clear a two-state solution is just not viable, collected detailed opinions of more than 270 individuals, including residents of the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, Gazans, Israeli Jews, and Israeli Arabs.
“One of our key goals was to determine if there were areas of overlap in opinions and feeling among Israelis and Palestinians that might offer avenues for negotiation, leading the parties closer to peace,” said Daniel Egel, lead author of the report and an economist at nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND. “Sadly, the data show the opposite. The data highlight the deep distrust and profound animosity of each side for the other.”
Resolving the crisis will likely require more holistic “peace deals” than have been previously offered, the RAND researchers found.
Netanyahu Aims to Block Iran, Restore Security
Speaking at the first cabinet meeting of his new government, Netanyahu reiterated his intention to block Iran’s ability to threaten Israel, and vowed to restore security in the country.
“We have four main goals,” he said. “First of all, to block Iran. This is an existential question. First of all, we will see to our existence and security.
“Second, to restore the security and governance within the State of Israel.
“Third, to deal with the cost of living and the housing problem.
“Fourth, and I believe that this is within reach, to dramatically expand the circle of peace,” he said.
“I am certain that we will do this because we are a united government. I can tell you this is different: Without peer, without alternatives, without any of the previous limitations. We are a united government that also has a unified vision and goal.
“We have already brought to Israel the ‘Golden Age’ – the best years in its history,” Netanyahu declared.
“Now we will take Israel to new heights and we will do so as a responsible and dedicated government that will fulfill its term.”