Israel Fears America Will Reinstate The Iran Nuclear Deal Under President-Elect Joe Biden

With America’s presidential voting concluded, Donald Trump has been defeated by Democrat Joe Biden. With the whole world watching, perhaps one of the most attentive observers was Israel. Trump has proven himself an ally to the Israelis, particularly through economic sanctions on Iran and the withdrawal of the nuclear deal, something Biden has expressed support for.

A transfer in power in America has far-reaching, immediate implications in states like Israel. Dan Williams of Reuters reports that Israel’s Minister of Intelligence, Eli Cohen, is credited with saying that the continuation of normalization deals in Israel is contingent upon America continuing to be steadfast in their position against Iran as the Trump administration was. These normalization deals are crucial to the safety of Israel in a historically hostile region. Trump has made progress in gaining support from states such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

Biden could jeopardize this increasing prospect of peace in the Middle East, as far as Israel is concerned, by rescinding the Trump administration’s decision to leave the Iran Nuclear Deal. A return to the deal would mean a lifting of sanctions on Iran which would then allow Iran to access billions of dollars of offshore resources thereby giving Iran a lifeline to escape the economic hardship they have been experiencing. While lifting states out of economic depression is clearly something that should be favourable, a return to economic prosperity would also grant Iran the ability to continue to aggressively pursue its nuclear goals. Iran claims these are for efficient power generation, but the international community seems to be unanimous in thinking that it would further Iran’s nuclear weapon aspirations.

America’s interests removed, there is a reason that heavy sanctions were celebrated by varying Middle Eastern states. Iran being a theocratic state with the heavy majority of the population being Shia Muslims could be cause for a nuclear attack on neighbouring Muslim states with a Sunni majority, such as Saudi Arabia. This can explain why normalization with Israel has been increasing in popularity in the Middle East. It could be explained that increased support can be attributed to states bending to the will of America in order for America to remain in opposition to the Iran Nuclear Deal. To rephrase, many Middle Eastern and African Muslim states would rather normalize relations with Israel than see Iran be allowed to continue aggressive nuclear research.

This issue is clearly not as cut and dry as it may seem and the future of Middle Eastern relations for Israel is not even in their own hands. Instead, it will be determined by President-elect Biden and what his administration chooses to do in regard to the Nuclear Deal.

Trump made it very clear that he took no issue with tearing down executive orders and agreements passed by the Obama administration. As such Biden should have no issue doing the same to Trump. However, this issue may be exacerbated by constantly changing positions and as such Biden may find it best to continue the sanctions imposed by Trump. It appears to be having a positive effect in swaying African and Middle Eastern states to think like-minded to America. Furthermore, a sharp foreign policy change may not have immediate consequences in America but the same cannot be said for neighbours of Iran who could be endangered by Iran continuing their nuclear program. If peace in the Middle East is to be achieved it may be best to continue sanctions until Iran can be trusted by the international community to not utilize nuclear power research for weapons.