Biden Struggles to Reassure Israel, the Morning After Afghanistan Terror Attacks

Naftali Bennett and Joe Biden (Sarahbeth Maney-Pool / Getty)
Sarahbeth Maney-Pool / Getty

President Joe Biden attempted to reassure Israel of U.S. support on Friday morning, as he met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett the day after 13 U.S. troops were killed in a terror attack at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Biden began by discussing the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in the two countries — in contrast with Bennett, who began by offering condolences to the U.S. on the terror attacks in Afghanistan, and then emphasized the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

But the president added: “We are also going to discuss the threat from Iran and our commitment to ensure Iran never develops a nuclear weapon. But we’re putting diplomacy first, and seeing where that takes us. But if diplomacy fails, we’re ready to turn to other options.”

Biden faces increasing doubts from allies — including Israel, Taiwan, Ukraine, and others — who are concerned that the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan means that they can no longer trust American security guarantees.

Bennett thanked Biden: “I was happy to hear your clear words that Iran will never be able to acquire a nuclear weapon and that you emphasized that you will try to take the diplomatic route, but there are other options if that doesn’t work out.”

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The Israeli prime minister emphasized that Israel would never need to rely on the U.S. military for protection: “We will never outsource our security. It’s our responsibility to take care of our fate.” But he thanked Biden for American support for Iron Dome and other Israeli weapons systems, and emphasized the need to cooperation on Iran.

Biden, whose administration initially backed international criticism of Israel over Palestinian-fueled riots in Jerusalem in May, pivoted to supporting Israel once Hamas terrorists began launching thousands of rockets at major Israeli cities.

The two governments are currently at odds over several issues, including Biden’s desire to open a consulate in Jerusalem specifically catering to Palestinians. Israel, which has the right to reject new diplomatic missions on its sovereign territory under international law, believes that the existing U.S. embassy can serve Palestinians, and that a separate consulate would be a step toward dividing the city.

President Donald Trump closed the Jerusalem consulate when moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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