From Harold Meyerson, The American Prospect <[email protected]>
Subject Meyerson on TAP: The Off-Ramp From Bibi That Biden Hasn’t Taken
Date January 23, 2024 8:19 PM
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**JANUARY 23, 2024**

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Meyerson on TAP








**** The Off-Ramp From Bibi That Biden Hasn't

In getting repeatedly blown off by Bibi, Biden looks as ineffectual as
he did when he was repeatedly blown off by Joe Manchin.

Asked last week about his repeated rebuffs to President Biden's
requests that he accept a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine
conundrum, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said
"The prime minister needs to be able to say no, even to our best

Which, substituting the word "president" for "prime minister," is
precisely what Joe Biden needs to say to Netanyahu. There is no reason
why the United States should continue to support a government so bent on
ethnic cleansing that it rejects the offers of almost every major Arab
nation to recognize Israel if only it accedes to the establishment of a
Palestinian state. There is no reason why the United States should
continue to support a government determined to wage its war when
multiple Israeli military leaders say
and an increasing share of Israelis believe, that that war will never
get the hostages back and that the only way to do so is to declare a
cease-fire. There is no reason why the United States should continue to
support a government determined to rule from the river to the sea when
such rule will extinguish Israel's democratic character, which, in
fact, is the goal of the far-right members who hold sway in Bibi's
Cabinet. And there is no reason why the United States should continue to
support a government whose leader-the above-mentioned prime
minister-is keeping the war going at least partly because he fears its
cessation might enable Israel's citizens to bring down his government.

Does Biden have the political space to make such a break? To condition
U.S. aid to Israel on the government accepting the only plausible
long-term solution to its relations with Palestinians, on the government
maintaining and strengthening the nation's democratic character, on
the government ceasing its block-by-block demolition of Gaza?

Of course he does. Last week, 15 Jewish Democratic House members,
including such long-standing AIPAC-backed true believers as the San
Fernando Valley's Brad Sherman, condemned Bibi

for rejecting a two-state solution. The only member of the U.S. Senate
to have actually lived and worked on a kibbutz-Bernie Sanders-has
argued against the unconditional $14 billion aid package to Israel, as
it would be put to such purposes as the continued destruction of Gaza
and attacks on West Bank Palestinians.

Politically, Biden's ongoing support for the war has clearly dimmed
his prospects of getting the kind of support from young voters that
enabled him to beat Donald Trump in 2020. But there's another damaging
aspect to his back-and-forths with Bibi that has gone largely

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The administration has been busily and very visibly endeavoring over the
past several months to get Israel to curtail its massive bombardment of
Gaza. It has been busily and very visibly lining up Arab support for
recognizing Israel if only Israel will recognize a Palestinian state. It
has assembled an impressive coalition of diverse nations to put those
proposals before Netanyahu, much as it assembled an impressive coalition
of diverse nations to support Ukraine against Putin's invasion.
Netanyahu has proved to be as intractable as Putin-the difference, of
course, being that he's our ally with whom we still do not break.

So Biden comes knocking and Bibi says, go away. Biden comes
imploring-we still will back you, but hear us out, here's why our
proposal will benefit Israel-and Bibi says, get lost.

In short, in Bibi, Biden has found the international equivalent of Joe
Manchin. Here's this proposal, Joe/Bibi. Here's why you should do
this, Joe/Bibi. I've been at this for months, Joe/Bibi, and everyone
has seen it, and has seen your rejections.

In short, what the Biden-Bibi back-and-forth conveys is what the
Biden-Manchin back-and-forth conveyed: the image of Biden's
ineffectuality, which only bolsters the misgivings that people have
about Biden's age.

Yes, yes, Manchin finally came around on one key compromise, as Bibi
isn't likely to do. And yes, Biden was effectual as all get-out in
getting a minuscule congressional majority to enact some landmark
legislation. But I fear the more indelible image that casual viewers of
American government took away during 2021-2022 was of Biden being
repeatedly rebuffed by Manchin. I fear that image is now reinforced by
his similar rebuffs from Bibi, and the fact that Biden is not
conditioning our support for Bibi's government on its acceptance of
his proposals, which seem to me to offer the only way that Israel can
survive as a democracy.

Enough with the unconditionality, Joe. Make the break. It'll be good
for Israel, good for the Middle East, good for democracy, good for
America, and good for you. You do have an election coming up.


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