Biden’s Lack of Focus on Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue Criticized Amid Regional Unrest

by Andrew Wright
Biden's Israeli-Palestinian Policy

From the outset of its term, the Biden administration marked a significant shift in its approach to the Middle East by deprioritizing longstanding American diplomatic efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Unlike previous U.S. administrations, which have engaged in efforts such as Camp David summits and shuttle diplomacy, Biden’s administration has noticeably abstained.

Instead, the Biden administration articulated a strategy of “quiet diplomacy,” aiming for incremental improvements in Palestinian living conditions and freedoms. This less aggressive diplomatic approach was in alignment with Biden’s broader foreign policy objective to shift focus from the Middle East to concerns over China.

However, the recent eruption of violence, instigated by a Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 and a subsequent intense Israeli military response, has sharply spotlighted the risks of this reduced focus on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Arab nations, dismayed by the United States’ lack of proactive engagement, argue that the escalating violence is symptomatic of America’s neglect.

The conflict has resulted in significant loss of civilian life in both Israel and Gaza and has required the United States to dispatch carrier strike groups to the region. The violence also risks sparking a broader regional crisis involving flows of Palestinian refugees.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, among other Arab leaders, warned U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the escalating conflict poses a risk to the stability of the entire Middle East. Sissi highlighted the absence of international pressure on both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinians to return to the negotiation table, citing this as a major contributing factor to the current crisis.

Saudi Arabia, echoing these concerns, emphasized its prior warnings about the volatile situation. Yezid Sayigh, a senior fellow at the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center, noted that while Arab leaders may endure this cycle of violence for now, the recurrent crises are far from a stable or acceptable state of affairs.

In a telling move, Biden’s first call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas came only in the midst of this renewed hostilities, further illustrating the administration’s marginalized focus on the issue.

Despite the limited prospects of immediate success, critics argue that not engaging in the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue can have far-reaching consequences. This perspective was made glaringly evident in the aftermath of the recent violence, which was the deadliest in the history of conflicts between Hamas and Israel.

While the Biden administration had made strides in securing normalization deals with Arab countries, these agreements may now be in jeopardy due to the renewed hostilities. Despite their criticisms, it’s worth noting that America’s Arab partners are fundamentally pragmatic and share a mutual interest with the U.S. and Israel in opposing groups backed by Iran.

Several analysts posit that the U.S. response to the Israeli crisis could potentially solidify Saudi Arabia’s interest in a security alliance. Yet, as the situation deteriorates for Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike, critics argue that the existing issues cannot simply be sidelined.

Yousef Munayyer, who heads the Palestine-Israel program at the Arab Center, summed up this sentiment: “Ignoring the core issues will not make them disappear. This should serve as a lesson for all parties involved.”

Contributions to this report were made by Big Big News correspondent Sam Magdy in Cairo.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Biden’s Israeli-Palestinian Policy

What is the primary focus of the article?

The article focuses on the Biden administration’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the criticism it has received from Arab leaders amid escalating violence in the region.

What is Biden’s “quiet diplomacy”?

“Quiet diplomacy” refers to the Biden administration’s strategy to focus on incremental improvements in Palestinian living conditions and freedoms under Israeli governance, rather than a comprehensive peace deal.

How have Arab leaders responded to the Biden administration’s approach?

Arab leaders, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, have criticized the U.S. for its lack of active engagement in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They argue that this neglect has contributed to the recent escalation in violence.

What has been the immediate impact of the recent violence?

The recent violence instigated by a Hamas attack on Israel and the subsequent Israeli military response has resulted in significant loss of civilian life, prompted the U.S. to deploy carrier strike groups to the region, and threatens broader regional stability.

How does the article view the prospects of normalization deals with Arab countries?

The article suggests that while the Biden administration had been making progress on normalization deals with Arab countries, these may now be jeopardized due to the escalating violence. However, it also notes that Arab partners are pragmatic and share mutual interests with the U.S. and Israel.

What long-term implications does the article suggest if the core Israeli-Palestinian issues remain unresolved?

The article suggests that if the core issues underlying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remain unresolved, the situation could continue to deteriorate, affecting not just Israel and Palestine but the broader Middle East.

What are the key criticisms of the U.S. approach as outlined in the article?

The main criticisms revolve around the U.S.’s diminished focus on a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, leading to instability and violence. Critics argue that ignoring the core issues will not make them disappear and could have far-reaching consequences.

Who contributed to this report?

The report includes contributions from Big Big News correspondent Sam Magdy in Cairo.

More about Biden’s Israeli-Palestinian Policy

  • Biden Administration’s Middle East Policy
  • The History of U.S. Involvement in Israeli-Palestinian Peace Efforts
  • What is Quiet Diplomacy?
  • Profile: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi
  • Overview: Hamas and Its Objectives
  • U.S. Foreign Policy Shift to China
  • The Impact of Normalization Deals on the Middle East
  • Arab Leaders and Their Views on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
  • Historical Context: The 1973 Arab-Israeli War and Oil Embargo
  • Report on Civilian Casualties in Recent Israeli-Hamas Conflict

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Michael Thompson October 17, 2023 - 4:46 pm

This piece really puts Biden’s policies under the microscope. it seems like there’s a lot of tension building up because the US is kinda sitting on the sidelines.

Alex Simmons October 17, 2023 - 5:21 pm

Why are we surprised that Biden isn’t putting much effort into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? hes always been a strong supporter of Israel. But I guess that makes the recent developments even more concerning.

Sara Williams October 17, 2023 - 11:47 pm

Interesting analysis. Quiet diplomacy sounds good on paper but what’s the point if it doesn’t stop the bloodshed? Looks like Biden is between a rock and a hard place, especially with Arab leaders calling him out.

Emily Patel October 18, 2023 - 2:23 am

The part about normalization deals was intriguing. If those had gone through, what would’ve happened? Would that overshadow the need for peace between Israelis and Palestinians? Food for thought.

John McKenzie October 18, 2023 - 2:54 am

So basically, the U.S has put Israel and Palestine on the back burner to deal with China? thats risky business right there. Middle East has always been a tinderbox. Ignoring it won’t make problems go away.

Laura Green October 18, 2023 - 3:51 am

Not to be that person, but didn’t we learn anything from history? 1973 should’ve taught us the potential global implications of ignoring the Middle East. This feels like deja vu, and not in a good way.


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