President Joe Biden meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. Biden was in New York to address the 78th United Nations General Assembly. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Over the years, the U.S.-Israeli relationship has had its ups and downs. But both nations benefit from this relationship, even when they disagree over tactics and strategies.

Some of the low points have included President Jimmy Carter’s decades of animus toward Israel, falsely accusing it of being one of the world’s worst human rights abusers. President Ronald Reagan fought with pro-Israel members of Congress over selling the Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) radar system to Saudi Arabia, which was perceived as undermining Israel’s military edge. Most significantly, the Obama administration’s support for a nuclear deal with Iran threatened Israel existentially by guaranteeing Iran an industrial-size atomic program with international approval by 2030.  

Through these rocky times, the relationship was repaired and strengthened based on joint strategic interests and the shared values of the two democratic liberal societies, surviving changes in the administrations of both countries.

Whether President Biden serves another four years beginning in January 2025 or is replaced by former President Donald Trump, he will be in office for the coming nine months. During this time, some of the most critical decisions affecting the U.S.-Israel relationship will occur, and those decisions will reverberate for years. 

Biden has become wobbly in his support of Israel because of extreme pressure from the left wing of his party. Pandering to anti-Israel voices may give him some short-term political gain, but it will undermine his support with moderates and independents if their preference for Israel over Hamas remains high. 

For American national security interests, can Biden separate his political goals from the much more significant strategic goal of standing resolutely with our ally Israel? At the very least, he should stay out of Israeli politics. Pointing fingers at Netanyahu is likely to backfire, as it only increases Netanyahu’s domestic support.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.)_recent statement interfering in the electoral process of a democratic ally during wartime certainly undermines how we are perceived in the world. If America can be so high-handed with Israel, its longtime ally, leaders of other countries may wonder whether we will turn on them too when it suits us. Leadership in the Arab world, as well as American allies such as Taiwan and Ukraine, will wonder whether American promises of steadfast support will evaporate if U.S. strategies for China, Russia and Iran change.When Biden withdrew from Afghanistan, the world received the same message of the U.S. abandoning an ally. This is what most likely pushed Saudi Arabia to advance relations with China, America’s chief adversary. 

How America treats Israel is heard in Taipei, Kyiv, Beijing, Moscow and Tehran.

Ultimately, it is not the tactics used to destroy Hamas that will weaken or preserve the U.S.-Israel alliance for the long-term, but the administration’s stance towards Iran. Iran is the lifeblood of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis.

If the U.S. fully enforced its sanctions hindering Iranian oil shipments to India and China, didn’t allow another $10 billion waiver for Iran, and imposed consequences on Iran for killing our soldiers, Israel would likely be more willing to consider America’s desires concerning Hezbollah and Hamas. 

America had secret negotiations with Iran in Oman last month. The Iranian goal is to stop Israel’s destruction of Hamas, and in exchange they would refrain from killing U.S. soldiers and attacking our ships in the Red Sea. It would be a significant strategic mistake to accept such a deal — a mistake that would haunt us for years. The ayatollah and his henchmen, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, would not believe their good fortune, were they able to manipulate the American superpower in such a way. 

Our best strategy is to keep our conversations with the Israelis under the radar, as they were during the first three months of the war. We must also acknowledge that Israelis are politically united around what they are doing. Even in the event of a new election, opposition leader Benny Gantz, who has pushed Netanyahu to articulate his war aims, would not prosecute the war very differently from Netanyahu.

Biden has a grand plan to create a Palestinian state, facilitate Israeli-Saudi normalization, create a U.S.-Saudi defense pact, and sell advanced arms to the kingdom. He wants to get past the current conflict and then establish the corrupt Palestinian Authority as part of the “day after” solution, with some superficial but insignificant changes. This all flies in the face of reality. The majority of Palestinians support Hamas and its actions on Oct. 7. To place the onus on Israel alone, without significant demands from the Palestinians, would be to reward terrorism and intransigence.

To make meaningful progress, Biden must face facts about the current state of Palestinian leadership. Not only must he declare the need to remove Hamas, but he should also highlight, not bury, the fact that Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization has publicly claimed it participated in Oct. 7, and that for many years it has been using American taxpayer dollars to incentivize and support terrorism.

The administration should also articulate the absolute need for deradicalization throughout Palestinian society. Palestinian acceptance of Israel’s existence must become a prerequisite for Palestinian statehood. And there must be ironclad security guarantees that the Palestinian entity cannot have any military.

And if Biden wants Israel to move on the path toward increased Palestinian autonomy, he must first get serious about Iran. That is the best way to get the U.S.-Israel relationship back on track and advance American national security interests.

This article originally appeared in The Hill on March 27, 2024.

Eric Mandel is the director of the Middle East Political Information Network and Mandel Strategies, and the senior security editor for The Jerusalem Report.

By mepin