Biden would keep any disputes with Israel out of public view, a top adviser says


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Joe Biden as president would keep disputes with Israel out of public view, a top adviser said.

It’s a striking contrast with President Barack Obama, who Biden served as vice president and believed that working through some differences in public helped move Israel.

“Joe Biden believes strongly in keeping your differences as far as possible between friends, behind doors, maintaining as little distance in public as possible,” Tony Blinken, a top adviser to Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said Monday in a webinar organized by a pro-Israel Democratic group, Democratic Majority for Israel.

It’s one of a number of distinctions the former vice president is drawing on Israel policy with the president he otherwise lauds and holds up as an example of what Americans should yearn for now, during the Trump presidency. Biden has also said he would reenter the Iran nuclear deal that President Donald Trump has abandoned but would seek to make it tougher.

Obama in a 2009 meeting with Jewish community leaders questioned the policy of “no daylight” in public between Israel and the United States, saying it had done little to advance peace. He openly criticized a number of Israeli government policies during his presidency, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu often responded in kind.

Blinken reiterated Biden’s commitment to resuming assistance to the Palestinians, which Trump has all but suspended, but added that he would abide by congressional restrictions conditioning much of the aid on the Palestinian Authority ending payments to Palestinians who have killed or wounded Americans and Israelis.

Blinken reiterated Biden’s position that he would not condition aid to Israel on its behavior — a demand that has been heard in the past year from the party’s left, particularly Biden’s most formidable rival in the primaries, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“He is resolutely opposed to it, he would not tie military assistance to Israel to any political decisions it makes, full stop,” Blinken said.

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