Friday, 12 Aug 2022 - 15 of Av, 5782

Israel, US to sign ‘Jerusalem Declaration’ on strategic partnership

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The document, the first of its kind between the two countries in decades, will be a “living testimony” to the unique bilateral relationship, say Israeli officials.

By Dmitriy Shapiro, JNS

Ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s arrival in Israel on Wednesday, senior Israeli officials said on Tuesday that during his visit, the two countries will formalize what one official called “the Jerusalem Declaration on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership.”

The Declaration, the official said, will be a framework for the bilateral relationship between Israel and the United States and will include a “regional component.” The document “is going to be a living testimony to the unique quality, health, scope, depth and intimacy of the U.S.-Israeli relationship,” the official added, and “shows in the clearest terms possible” the relationship’s unique nature.

The declaration will officially outline in writing the common values of the two nations and aspects of regional security both agree on and that have been status quo for years.

While these concepts are not novel, this would be the first such declaration between the two nations in decades.

The declaration includes a section in Iran, which the official said makes a clear stand against Iran’s aggression in the region and commits to both nations using their national power against the Iranian nuclear threat.

Another section speaks of the importance of American assistance as an “anchor of regional stability” and expresses the need for a follow-up to the Memorandum of Understanding to better address emerging threats and new realities in the region.

“It’s a unique testimony to the holistic nature of what we have been doing in the last decades, but also [in some instances]a blueprint for the U.S.-Israel relationship for the next couple of years,” one official said.

The officials also spoke about the Israeli government’s hopes for the effect Biden’s visit will have on further cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors in the wake of the Abraham Accords. The officials praised the ongoing American leadership with regard to normalization efforts, and said that they are encouraged by the commitment demonstrated by the United States to transforming the region.

“We believe that we created a genuine regional partnership, of which the U.S. is an integral part but of which the states of the region are also equal and responsible members and partners,” an official noted.

The officials said the new partnerships have benefitted regional security collaborations, and that beyond the new relationships with allies within the Abraham Accords, the Accords have also positively influenced Israel’s long standing relationships with Egypt and Jordan, allowing for more joint projects and programs to be developed and progress.

According to one of the officials, an announcement is also expected to be made during Biden’s visit regarding a “new stage of cooperation on technology that will touch on a wide spectrum of fields.” There will also be “discussions” on accelerating the process of including Israel in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, the officials said.

The visit will be Biden’s 10th to Israel (though his first as president), and the officials noted his decades of support for the Jewish state, which they said the Israeli government very much recognizes and cherishes.

While the visit will focus on shared goals, the officials will also discuss differences with their American counterparts, including Israel’s belief that American attempts to re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran have run their course, and that even if something is agreed upon it will be a short-term solution with few benefits and many strategic and economic drawbacks.

“Iran is continuing to violate its obligations and continues to deceive the international community,” one official said. “Our basic position is that Iran is playing for time and as long as Iran believes that time is on its side, they will not give in and will not make any concessions. This has been our approach for many months now. Time has run out on JCPOA, and it is crucial to exert pressure on Iran” now, or else the region will have to face the consequences tomorrow, the official added.

The officials noted that the United States has in recent months taken steps that are more in alignment with what Israel would like to see, including signaling that it was not willing to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO)—which the Iranian regime is demanding in the nuclear negotiations—leading in delivering a resolution against Iran during a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors and recently designating more Iranian entities as FTOs.

Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, and the fact that he will be flying to Jeddah from Israel, is viewed very positively by Israel, according to the officials, who without going into detail said that gradual steps were being made in regard to Israel’s relationship to the kingdom.

“Let me start by saying that—and this has been the Israeli view for many years—we cannot imagine the full transformation of the Middle East without having normalized relationship between Israel and all of its neighboring countries, including Saudi Arabia,” an official said, adding that Biden flying from Israel directly to Saudi Arabia “encapsulates a lot of the dynamics that have been evolving over the last months.”

“We are hoping and acting so that the steps taken now will only be the beginning, and that this will be the start of the process of normalization between the countries,” the official said. “We want to fully support and also bless the coming together of the American administration and Saudi Arabia. We believe that this is important for the United States, this is important for Israel and this is important for the security of the region.”

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