How Biden and Blinken Are Duping Naftali Bennett - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
How Biden and Blinken Are Duping Naftali Bennett
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on March 27, 2022. (U.S. Department of State).

On March 28, former American Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro announced that he was leaving the U.S. group in Vienna tasked with reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. Past U.S. adviser to Iran Gabriel Noronha revealed in Tablet that the three disaffected diplomats who left prior to Shapiro’s exit left “in protest over the direction set by U.S. Special Envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, who works as the U.S. Government’s chief negotiator.” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the stepson of a Holocaust survivor who attended school in Paris with Malley, reportedly allows Malley free rein in Vienna. Malley ended his role as an adviser to the Obama presidential campaign after it was revealed that he had held talks with Hamas. The concessions the U.S. is currently offering include granting Iran over $100 billion in sanctions relief and delisting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations list. The Revolutionary Guard Corps is responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and plotting to assassinate senior American government officials.

The departure of American delegates underscores Malley’s unhinged lurch in striking a deal with Iran and serves as a crucial backdrop for the recent Negev Summit, which was held at Israel’s Kibbutz Sde Boker. The conference had Blinken in attendance and it was organized by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. It included his counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Egypt, whose motivation for enhancing ties with Israel is rooted in the shared objective of halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The behavior of the summit’s attendees highlights the growing dissonance between the U.S. and Israel and the subsequent geopolitical alignment of Israeli and Arab interests. Yet despite issuing some words directed against removing the Revolutionary Guard Corps from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations registry, Israel remains curiously mum on U.S. involvement in Vienna while Arab countries are bolstering their criticism of U.S. foreign policy.

During a joint press conference with Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on the summit’s eve, Blinken performatively maintained that “there is no daylight between us on the fundamental proposition that Iran must never be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.” Blinken’s attempt to cultivate a narrative propagating a robust stance against a nuclear Iran is misleading and disingenuous. Its empowerment of the Islamic regime began within weeks of Biden’s inauguration when it removed the Iran-backed Houthis from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations roster. The administration, employing the same cast of characters present during Obama’s tenure, incentivizes Iran’s rogue behavior by offering additional concessions as part of a potential new agreement. Moreover, the emboldening of U.S. adversaries is occurring in tandem with the attempted weakening of U.S. allies. Last year, the U.S. unofficially denied Israel’s requests to receive air refueling services should the Jewish state decide to attack Iran’s nuclear installations.

Blinken’s statement on Iran was also quickly overshadowed by his paternalistic claims that Israel must prevent “settlement expansion” and “settler violence.” The secretary’s remarks mirror communication used by U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides. Earlier this month, while addressing Americans for Peace Now, the ambassador said he was “infuriated” by “settlement” growth. While Nides’ perpetuation of the myth that “settlements” impede peace before a progressive group should come as no surprise, Blinken’s assertions were promoted alongside Bennett, who stood by and refused to dispute the diplomat’s admonishments. Placating Blinken even further, Bennett diverged from his regular routine and referred to the biblical land of Judea and Samaria as the West Bank. Bennett’s office, responding to criticism,​​ reported that “no special significance should be attributed to his choice of language.”

The press conference emphasizes how confusing and weak-kneed rhetoric is often a precursor to violence. In its aftermath, Israel was subjected to three terrorist attacks within eight days which left 11 people dead. Unlike the strong and purposeful language used by former President Donald Trump and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the undisciplined and confusing discourse originating from the U.S. and Israel results in a dangerous regional security paradigm.

With an adherence to tradition and religion, Arab leaders respect those who project strength, certitude, and loyalty. Biden’s mistreatment of the Saudis and his disregard for the threat a nuclear Iran would pose to the region caused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the U.A.E.’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to decline U.S. requests for a phone call with Biden. Their understandable resentment towards the current administration is evidenced by various editorials penned in Arab- and Israel-based newspapers. Writing in The Jerusalem Post, Mohammed Alyahya, the past editor-in-chief of Al Arabiya English, correctly accused Blinken of attempting to use his time at the Negev Summit to “paper over the rift that the nuclear deal has created.” In the Arab press, Saudi and Kurdish journalists pointedly blame Biden for “repeating the mistakes” of Obama and instituting a foreign policy that is “more extremist and regressive.”

Bennett has very little to show for his decision to refuse to publicly campaign against a U.S. return to the Iran deal. The prime minister’s first responsibility lies in safeguarding Israel’s citizens. Bennett should take a page out of the Saudi playbook and stop trying to ingratiate himself with an administration who, for all of its diplomatic pieties, is committed to strengthening a regime whose leadership remains devoted to the destruction of Israel. 

Irit Tratt is a writer who resides in New York. Her work has appeared in The American Spectator, The Jerusalem Post, JNS, the Algemeiner, and Israel Hayom.

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