If I Were Bibi This Is What I Would Tell President-elect Joe Biden

Shabtai Shavit
Shabtai Shavit
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 21, 2016
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then Vice President Joe Biden, in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2016. Credit: Michel Euler/AP
Shabtai Shavit
Shabtai Shavit

The Trump era is history. If I were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, what would I do now?

I would use a secret pipeline to send a request to President-elect Joe Biden, to meet with him as soon as possible. At the meeting I would explain to him that I have decided to take advantage of his election to explain to him how I see the future of the relationship between Israel and the United States, in light of the changes taking place in the world as a whole and in the Middle East in particular.

I would begin by saying that the United States, the leader of the world since the end of World War II, must continue in this role. If he, Biden, adheres to the isolationist policy of “America First,” the leadership of the world will be transferred to authoritarian forces, who will put an end to the model of liberal democracy and its values.

The free world without the United States won’t be able to compete with China and Russia in shaping the 21st century, and the world will no longer be what it was. Without U.S. leadership, the free world will be unable to deal on its own with the threat of two regional powers in the Middle East − Iran and Turkey – the first is a Shi’ite Muslim theocracy, which is galloping towards military nuclear capability, and the second is shattering Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s secular revolution and returning with giant steps to the imperial era of Ottoman Turkey, with an emphasis on a more extreme Islam.

In the face of these threats a window of opportunity has opened for establishing a third axis in the Middle East, which will be able to deal with the global as well as the regional powers. This axis must be based on the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel, which will eventually be joined by the Europeans and the moderate Islamic countries. The upgrade in relations between Israel and the Gulf countries, which is taking place before our eyes, could serve as a lever to advance this strategy.

If President Biden adopts the idea, Israel would be willing to contribute to its advancement by declaring that it accepts the 2002 Saudi Initiative (which was adopted by the Arab League), as a draft for negotiations for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The United States would have to adopt a policy of realpolitik towards Saudi Arabia regarding its expectations in the area of democratization.

An American-Saudi-Israeli axis, which would radiate military, economic and ethical power, would receive the support of many of the countries of the free world. Israel could finally solve the conflict with the Palestinians from a position of strength and willingness, and reconciliation with the Arab world. As a startup nation Israel can take full advantage of cooperation with the Arab world. Moreover, an environment of peace would enable a more just and efficient division of national wealth, and bring the State of Israel into the club of the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland and Holland.

Do these things sound like a fantasy? Perhaps, but the alternative that I see is far worse. Israel will continue to stagnate, and will turn into “Jewishstan” (the copyright is not mine, but I was given permission to use it).

The writer was the head of the Mossad.

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