​​Joe Biden’s Plan for a Palestinian State Will Harm America and Israel

Hamas commits the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. Hundreds of civilians from Gaza actively participate in the slaughter. Spontaneous celebrations erupt from Khan Yunis to Ramallah. Washington’s preferred partner, the Palestinian Authority (PA), has yet to condemn the atrocities.

How does President Joe Biden propose to counter this assault on American values and interests? Unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, reportedly. It’s hard not to conclude that this appalling betrayal of one of America’s closest allies is all about helping Biden carry the key state of Michigan in November’s elections.

Saying this pains us. Following October 7, Biden’s support for Israel at its darkest hour was magnificent. He traveled to the war zone to grieve with Israelis, declared America’s support for destroying Hamas, deployed U.S. forces to deter Iran and Hezbollah, and resupplied Israel with weapons.

Perhaps most admirably, he did so despite widespread opposition from his own party. It was an act of true political courage: Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s last unapologetic Zionist.

Now, all that is in danger of being undone. Biden’s poll numbers have declined; his administration appears panicked. In a cringe-worthy performance, Biden’s deputy national security advisor bent over backward to appease Arab-American voters in Michigan, privately disparaging Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and apologizing for Biden’s failure to sympathize with Palestinians more publicly.

This political damage control is understandable. Far more alarming is how this impulse to reverse course on Israel is now overtaking the administration’s policies. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pressed for “a concrete, time-bound and irreversible path” toward a Palestinian state. This amounts to saying that it doesn’t matter how corrupt and incompetent the Palestinian leadership remains, if they continue to incite their people to hate Jews, or if their ultimate goal remains Israel’s destruction. What matters is that when the clock runs out on Blinken’s “time-bound” process—in a month, a year, or five years—the Palestinians will be rewarded with their state. Apparently, this will be done as part of a plan to bring about Israel-Saudi normalization.

It’s not an overstatement to say this is lunacy and disastrous for U.S. interests.

It rewards terror. The time-dependent and unconditional U.S. recognition of “Palestine” gives the autocratic, corrupt, complicit, and wholly unpopular PA little reason to revamp itself. This will just perpetuate instability, anti-Israel terror, and pro-Hamas sentiment. Already, 82 percent of West Bank Palestinians said in a respected poll that Hamas’s invasion on October 7 was correct. Other polls indicate Hamas would likely win an election in the West Bank.

It reverses longstanding U.S. policy, enshrined in the 1993 Oslo Accords, that Israelis and Palestinians must negotiate all final status issues, including the possible establishment of a Palestinian state. It’s as if the United States was negotiating with Russia about its war with Ukraine without even consulting the Ukrainian government.

Israel will never agree, and America will achieve nothing except a breach in U.S.-Israeli relations and American diplomatic failure. Biden officials blame Netanyahu, but Israeli president Isaac Herzog, a man thoroughly of the left, summed up how unrealistic these proposals are, telling the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland, last month: “If you ask an average Israeli now about his or her mental state, nobody in his right mind is willing now to think about what will be the solution of the peace agreements because everybody wants to know: Can we be promised real safety in the future?” To underscore the point, 99 out of 120 members of the Israeli Knesset recently voted against any unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. As one senior Israeli official told us, “not even Moses could get that many votes.”

If the small territory of the Gaza Strip, located far from Israel’s major population centers, could wreak such violent destruction, how much more dangerous would a Palestinian state in the West Bank be? It would be within striking distance of Israel’s political and economic heartland, just a few miles from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

It is impossible to convince Israelis that such a state would not pose a mortal threat to them; they would only feel abandoned by the United States. What lessons would other prospective partners of America draw about aligning with Washington against Beijing and Moscow if the United States is so willing to throw one of its closest partners, Israel, under the bus?

Put all these reasons together—rewarding terror, creating U.S.-Israel tension, abandoning allies, and creating a new, unstable, radical Palestinian government—and the big winner would be Iran.

One can be sympathetic to the Palestinians having their own state one day. However, Biden’s approach is reckless and dangerous to U.S. interests. And with a new poll showing people in Michigan support Israel over the Palestinians by a ratio of two to one, Biden might not even have anything to show politically for what would truly be a historic folly.

John Hannah is the Randi and Charles Wax senior fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) and served as national security adviser to former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney.

Michael Makovsky, a former Pentagon official, is President and CEO of JINSA.

Originally published in The National Interest.