Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia was doomed from the beginning

Trying to make peace in the Middle East is a task American presidents usually leave until their second term. That was the pattern set, with varying degrees of success, by presidents Nixon, Clinton and Obama.

Only Jimmy Carter allowed hope to triumph over experience during his single term in office, with the historic Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel. Although only in his first term, and on his first visit to the region, Joe Biden is expressly not there to follow in the footsteps of any of his peacemaking predecessors. He has been around for too long, and seen too many disappointments, to risk the investment needed to make progress. This trip has more to do with Russia and Ukraine than Israel and Palestine.

President Biden makes no bones about it. While re-affirming the long-standing two state formula – “two states for two peoples” – he was also honest enough to admit the “ground is not ripe” to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks. It is something of an understatement.


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