Former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro
Former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro. (Andrew Tobin/JTA)

Daniel Shapiro tells the JN how the VP’s stance on Israel would differ from Trump’s.

A Joe Biden presidency would “treat Israel as a matter of bipartisan consensus,” according to Daniel Shapiro, a Biden campaign surrogate who served as the U.S. ambassador to Israel under the Obama administration from 2011-2017.

Shapiro, now the visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, spoke to the JN from Israel. He said the former vice president would continue to push for a two-state solution as a “guide star” for U.S.-Israel policy; discourage any unilateral settlement, annexation or “sovereignty” actions by Israel; and oppose the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement in the U.S. These policies are largely in line with the establishment Democratic consensus on Israel.

In other ways, Biden’s policies would continue or mirror some of the Trump administration’s moves. The candidate “welcomes” the Abraham Accords, the normalization agreements between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates that Trump facilitated, Shapiro said. He added that Biden would “work to expand the circle of peace” between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Biden also intends to keep the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, according to Shapiro — a controversial move undertaken by Trump.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a testy relationship with Shapiro and the Obama administration, and has made no secret that he prefers Trump in the White House. Trump, in turn, has often touted his friendship with the PM and his own achievements in Israel on the campaign trail. Many Detroit-area Jews have said the Trump administration has been better for Israel than previous administrations.

Shapiro, noting that Biden has known Netanyahu since the 1980s, said the candidate would pursue his plans for Israel “no matter who the Israeli prime minister is.” However, Shapiro said, “he will certainly discourage any steps, especially unilateral steps by either side, that will make [a two-state solution] harder to achieve.”

Trump also withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration. Shapiro said that, as a result, “Iran has moved much closer to a nuclear weapon” and is “in a more dangerous place” than when Trump took office. In a recent op-ed for the Miami Herald, Shapiro argued that Trump’s stance on Iran was one reason why his administration had “put Israel in greater danger.”

He said a Biden administration would work to put “multilateral” pressures on Iran to make it “come back into compliance with its commitments under the Iran nuclear deal.” Biden himself has said he would re-enter the deal if Iran agreed to return to “strict compliance;” Iran was recently revealed to be behind malicious emails targeting U.S. voters in an attempt to influence the election.

Shapiro also said Biden would be more aggressive in addressing antisemitism in America than Trump and push for “increased security for religious institutions,” including synagogues. “Unfortunately,” Shapiro said, “that’s more necessary than it’s ever been.”

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