Leading foreign policy voices tell NIF Australia of a new era in US foreign policy in the Middle East

February 4, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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More than 500 people joined New Israel Fund Australia’s first event of 2021 to hear a discussion about Joe Biden’s plans for US policy in the Middle East.

Liam Getreu, Ksenia Svetlova and Aaron David Miller

Panellists at the digital event were veteran Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller and Middle East analyst and former Knesset member Ksenia Svetlova.

The wide-ranging conversation focused on the reality in which the United States now finds itself, focused on domestic rather than foreign priorities, and how that will impact its plans for the next four years.

“The Middle East, while important, is simply not as important as it used to be,” said Miller from Washington DC. “American priorities are changing … [and] domestic priorities will rule.”

Both speakers agreed that solving the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not be at the top of the Biden administration.

Speaking from Israel, Svetlova said that with the current mix of Israeli and Palestinian leaders if there was no major rocking of the boat, it would be unlikely that the US would put substantial pressure on either side to resume negotiations. She did note that if there was a change in power it could translate to “a window of opportunity.”

Miller and Svetlova agreed that the Biden administration’s major focus would be curtailing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Miller told the audience that the Iran issue will be a priority because it is the only one that has the potential to spill over into a military crisis, disrupt the global oil supply, and have a major impact on financial markets.

Svetlova explained that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is concerned about the US re-entering the diplomatic arrangement with Iran and is trying to galvanise the Israeli electorate around the potential threat. She said that “Israelis are most fearful about what Biden will do in Iran,” remarking that it’s still not clear whether there is an appetite in Israel for a major confrontation with the new president. She also noted that the Israeli political leadership understand that the “mirage days” of the Donald Trump administration are definitely over.


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