Likud Frets Over US Election Fallout

Tzachi Hanegbi, Israeli Minister for Settlement Affairs. (Hillel Maeir/Flash90)

As Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden seemed likely to win the election on Thursday, Likud officials were contemplating the future with some trepidation.

Minister Tzachi Hanegbi warned that Biden’s Iran policy could lead to war:

“Biden has said openly for a long time that he will go back to the nuclear agreement,” Hanegbi said. “I see that as something that will lead to a confrontation between Israel and Iran.”

Hanegbi told Channel 13 News that he, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and most Israelis saw the Iran Deal signed by the Obama administration in 2015 as “mistaken – and that’s an understatement.”

On the other hand, he said he is not concerned that a Biden administration would significantly undercut the building of Jewish communities in Yehuda and Shomron.

Many think the consequences of a Biden victory could be fatal to Netanyahu’s political career. As one senior Likud official was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying:

“Now they will tell Netanyahu: Your friend is gone, against all odds, so you will go too,” referring to the premier’s opponents.

“Now they will talk about how Netanyahu severed ties with the Democrats, what price we will all pay and how he — who knows America better than anyone — gambled on the wrong horse,” the official said, speaking anonymously.

It will also make Netanyahu less inclined to ditch his coalition partners and call new elections. “Now Netanyahu will have much less desire to go to the polls in Israel,” he said.

There is concern as well that U.S. support for Israel in international forums will weaken. “We took a hit. Nikki Haley will not be there for us anymore,” the MK said of the former Trump-appointed ambassador to the U.N. who was vigorously pro-Israel.

The MK, however, did not think Biden will be the captive of anti-Israel faction in the Democratic party.

“The Democratic Party has extreme and radical fringes, which even a left-wing government in Israel cannot get along with. Biden has a strong support base, and he is not one to be affected by them.”

Derech Eretz MK Tzvi Hauser, who was cabinet secretary during part of Biden’s tenure as vice president, expressed confidence in Biden as a steady friend of Israel.

“I assume that even if the Iran Deal is renewed… it will be better than the previous one,” he told Army Radio on Thursday. “There is broad agreement that it had significant holes when it comes to the interests of the free world,” said Hauser, currently a member of the Likud-led coalition and chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.