How Biden Should Handle Israel, Hamas and Iran | Opinion

To the great consternation of Palestinian human rights activists and the innocent Palestinian people living under Hamas rule in Gaza, terrorists, Europeans and the media are spreading a false narrative about the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. Bassam Eid, a well-respected Palestinian activist living in Jerusalem, said as much last week in a guest column that ran in Israeli media. It's about influence, Eid says, and Hamas started a war with Israel "to seize the narrative and increase its own influence and control over Palestinians in Jerusalem."

Hamas always wants to increase its influence and views terror as the means to that end. So, what made Hamas believe it could get away with raining missiles down on Israeli civilians? Hamas would have you believe it was a court decision, a police action or anything that Israel has control over. And that would be a lie.

The violent confrontations between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem that immediately preceded Hamas rocket attacks were just a convenient foil—precisely how the terrorist playbook has read for more than two decades. Just as former U.S. Senator George Mitchell (D-ME) found in his role as lead investigator for the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in 2000 did not cause the Second Intifada (as the terrorists' narrative suggested), so too will other investigators find that litigation over property in Sheikh Jarrah did not cause this latest spasm of rocket fire.

Rather, Hamas remains as committed as ever to killing Jews. The proximate cause for its aiming to do so now was an astounding display of weakness by the United States.

The facts bear this out. Just five weeks after the Biden administration reopened negotiations with Iran—the patron of Hamas—and announced it would be restoring U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority, Hamas attacked.

What has happened as a result of the administration's weak posture stands in stark contrast to the results of the previous administration's foreign policy, which united Arabs and Jews behind greater pressure on Iran, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and drastically increased the number of Arab states maintaining normalized relations with Israel.

In the Middle East, weakness begets conflict and strength begets stability. The Biden administration's resistance to this simple reality is now playing out in Gaza. But it's not too late to change course—and the White House is demonstrating that it understands Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorist predations.

President Joe Biden on May 18, 2021
President Joe Biden on May 18, 2021 Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

It was wise to block U.N. Security Council attempts to effectively allow Hamas to get away with attacking Israel by imposing a ceasefire. So, too, was the decision to resupply armaments to Israel. President Biden is doing what is necessary to ensure Israel has the time and capabilities it needs to effectively respond to the terrorist threat.

Now, however, the Biden administration must learn from what has taken place in recent weeks by fundamentally changing its perspective on engagement with Iran and the Palestinian leadership.

The Biden administration should immediately make clear to Tehran that support for terrorism is central to the discussions in Vienna. Iran cannot be allowed to blackmail the world into receiving sanctions relief, only to funnel more money to Hezbollah and Hamas. In addition, the White House should make clear to the Palestinian leadership that further U.S. aid will be tied directly to democratic reforms, including enabling dissent to flourish inside all Palestinian controlled-territories—Gaza included.

Finally, the U.S. should return to emphasizing efforts to help Arab nations normalize relations with Israel. This is not just good for Israel or the Arab world—it also solidifies a coalition of stability-oriented countries across the region that can serve as a further bulwark against Tehran's tyrants.

Such an approach will no doubt be met with vitriol from anti-Israel elements around the world. Armchair revolutionaries, closeted (and open) anti-Semites and the foreign policy intelligentsia all believe weakening Israel is the answer to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Recent history has shown just how backwards that thinking truly is.

Since its founding, Israel has shown the risks it is willing to take for peace. But prior to the Abraham Accords, every peace agreement that Israel's adversaries signed came after Israeli military victories. The stronger Israel is, the more likely her adversaries will be to finally negotiate in good faith. And as the recent normalization agreements between Israel and several Islamic nations make clear, strong support of Israel and U.S. diplomatic engagement in the Middle East are the key ingredients for regional peace and stability.

Peace through strength has worked for decades—and as the Bible says, there is "nothing new under the sun."

Pastor John Hagee is the founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.