President Joe Biden and his team came into office understandably hoping to deprioritize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They saw Washington-led negotiations as a trap that had ensnared previous U.S. administrations, and the prospects for progress looked bleaker than ever.
But some issues can’t be ignored. As last month’s escalation between Israel and Hamas underscored, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires regular U.S. engagement to avoid spasms of violence that sap Washington’s ability to deal with other priorities.
Small details matter a great deal—and they have the potential to become big international headaches.
The Biden administration isn’t wrong to eschew yet another round of high-profile negotiations. The conflict isn’t ripe for resolution. But Biden does need a concerted strategy to improve the trajectory of the conflict—and to prevent periodic flare-ups—while still preserving the possibility of a two-state solution. The surprise ouster of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, and the inauguration of a new Israeli government led by the conservative Naftali Bennett and the centrist Yair Lapid, offers Biden a unique opportunity to do just that.
Although it was an unwelcome distraction, the recent conflict holds important lessons that should inform the Biden administration’s approach to managing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Among the most important is that small details matter a great deal—and they have the potential to become big international headaches. This latest round of violence began with a local dispute over the potential eviction of four Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem but soon exploded into an international crisis that absorbed hours of Biden’s time.
Read the full article from Foreign Affairs.
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