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Return To The Starting Square With New Rules

A Joe Biden, young newly elected Democratic senator, was impressed by the meeting held in 1973 in one of his first official trips, the then leader of Israel, Golda Meir, shortly before the Yom Kippur War. Almost half a century later, the president-elect of the United States is still seen as a staunch ally of the Jewish state.

With him he returns to the consensus installed in the White House from Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1968) to the disruption represented by the term of Republican Donald Trump.

Israel will have to grapple again with the two-state solution: contain the expansion of settlements and renounce the annexation of the West Bank, but the foreseeable return to the starting box from January will also entail new rules of the game for the Palestinians , after the recognition of Jerusalem as an Israeli capital and the transfer of the Embassy from Tel Aviv, where the rest of the countries ( with the sole exception of Guatemala) continue to maintain their diplomatic legations.

As congratulations from international leaders cascaded down, Benjamin Netanyahu was silent for more than 12 hours. “Joe, we have had a long and warm personal relationship for almost 40 years and I know that you are a great friend of Israel,” the Democrat’s victory finally greeted through Twitter.

While the Israeli prime minister, who still heads his social network account with a photo in the company of Trump, was pondering the response on Saturday night, thousands of protesters shouted outside his official residence in Jerusalem: “Today [Trump falls], tomorrow Netanyahu will follow ”.

His next tweet was precisely for the outgoing president: “Thank you for recognizing Jerusalem and the Golan, for standing up to Iran, for the historic agreements [to normalize relations with three Arab countries] and for raising our alliance to unprecedented heights. ”

In 2010, when Biden first visited Israel as US vice president, Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered the construction of a new settler settlement in East Jerusalem, crossing the red line drawn by the Barack Obama Administration.

It does not appear that the affront will have consequences for the Jewish State, although it may affect the personal relationship with the head of the Hebrew Government.

The president-elect “belongs to the most pro-Israel wing of the Democratic Party, and came to define himself as a ‘Zionist’ to express his admiration for Israel,” columnist Nahum Barnea argued this Sunday in the pages of Yedioth Ahronoth .

As if it were a matter of restarting a blocked device, the Government of Israel will have to readjust some parameters in the bilateral ties with Washington.

Biden had anticipated during the campaign that he will maintain the headquarters of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, although he will reopen the Consulate General in the Holy City, which acts as a de facto diplomatic legation before the Palestinian Authority.

The rais Mahmud Abbas congratulated him unequivocally with an appeal to resurrect a dead relationship for nearly three years ago, when Trump gave the kick to the board of the international consensus on Jerusalem as the future capital together Israelis and Palestinians.

The reopening of the representation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington and the return of US economic aid, including that granted until 2018 to the UN headquarters for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) , are signs that are expected in Ramallah to return to the dialogue table with Israel under the conditions set by Secretary of State John Kerry in 2014.

“It is foreseeable that the new Administration will regain relations with the Palestinians and try to reopen the path of negotiations”, says Sara Feuer, a researcher at the Institute of National Security in Tel Aviv.

“We do not expect a miraculous transformation, but at least Trump’s destructive policy will stop,” says the historical leader of the PLO, Hanan Ashrawi, who participated in the Palestinian delegation at the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991.

For Biden, the Returning to the starting box as the seemingly more impartial mediator in the two-state solution is hardly a style clause. The Middle East, in general, and the Palestinian question, in particular, have ceased to be a priority in the United States.

Israel’s politicians and analysts now seem far more concerned about an eventual revival of the Iran nuclear deal, signed by Obama in 2015 and from which Trump dropped three years later.

“A reactivation of the nuclear pact threatens to unleash strategic tension,” warns John Rynhold, analyst and professor at Bar Ilan University (outside Tel Aviv). Minister Tzachi Hanegbi has gone further, warning that “Israel may be forced into a violent confrontation with Tehran” if Washington returns to negotiate with the Iranian regime.

In Jordan, which is about to hold legislative elections this week, King Abdullah II has received with relief the relief in the White House, which under the Republican Administration has pressured the Hashemi monarch to accept the so-called “deal of the century”, the Trump’s peace plan squarely rejected by the Palestinians.

Biden’s campaign announcement that the new presidency will closely monitor respect for human rights among its allies has sparked hope in Egypt, where reports of detainee abuse have multiplied in recent years. Its president, Abdelfatá al Sisi, has maintained a close relationship with the Republican president, who in a humorous comment came to define him as his “favorite dictator.”

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