In a major article on behalf of the outgoing Obama administration for Foreign Policy magazine, Vice President Joe Biden surveyed the challenges that will face the next president abroad without mentioning the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The omission could indicate that “the establishment of a Palestinian state may no longer be a top priority for the current U.S. administration,” as The Times of Israel noted.
If so, it would be welcome news for Israeli officials who have expressed fears in recent weeks that President Barack Obama is entertaining one last try before leaving office, possibly supporting a pro-Palestinian resolution at the United Nations Security Council.
Biden’s avoidance of the issue also follows Obama’s own omission in the State of the Union address in January, in which, for the first time as president, he did not mention Israel or the Palestinians.
Israel came up in the 4,500-word article only in connection with the Iran nuclear deal. Biden claimed the agreement was working, for the benefit of Israel and the world.
“Tehran is neither a friend nor a partner. But our willingness to break taboos and engage the regime directly, combined with our success in mobilizing unprecedented international pressure on Iran to negotiate, peacefully removed one of the greatest threats to global security: the specter of Iran gaining a nuclear weapon,” Biden wrote.
“Tearing up the deal now, as some have proposed, would leave Iran’s nuclear program unconstrained, increase the threat to Israel and our partners in the Gulf, turn the international community against the United States, and sharply raise the prospect of another major war in the Middle East.”
Regarding Iran’s continued belligerent behavior, Biden said that the nuclear deal was narrowly focused and should be judged on its own terms.
“Critics of engagement should remember that the nuclear deal was never meant to resolve all our problems with Tehran,” Biden wrote in the article. “Engaging Iran need not come at the expense of our ironclad commitments to our allies and partners in the Middle East, including Israel. The United States has retained all the means necessary, including targeted sanctions, to hold Iran accountable for its ballistic missile activities, support for terrorism, and human rights violations, and we are committed to working with our allies and partners to push back against Iran’s destabilizing behavior.”