Joe Biden is dreaming big for the Middle East, currently in turmoil due to the Hamas-Israel war and attacks by Iran-backed militias across the region.
Despite the resistance, and even contempt, the Netanyahu government has thus far shown for Biden’s pleas for restraint in Gaza, the US President is hoping that a hostage-prisoner swap and an end to conflict will pave the way for a wider regional peace deal being dubbed the “Biden Doctrine”.
This would see establishment of a new government in the Gaza Strip that would include a Palestinian Authority and some political movement towards a two-state solution. The two other strands aim for the normalisation of relations between Israel and Saudi, and the formation of a strong regional axis to counter Iran.
According to the New York Times Israel commentator Thomas Friedman, who coined the term “Biden Doctrine”, the three tracks – a status quo-busting diplomatic initiative to promote a Palestinian state, an expanded US-Israel alliance with Saudi Arabia and a combined stand against Iran and its proxies – “would absolutely have to be tied together” to succeed.
If the Biden-Harris Administration could pull it off, it would, he said, be “the biggest strategic realignment in the region since the 1979 Camp David treaty”.
But that is an almighty “if”. Steven Cook, a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, has said the Biden-Harris Administration might be “about to bite off a lot more than they can chew, especially when it comes to building a Palestinian state – setting Washington up for yet another failure in the region”.