A Biden victory will be ‘bad’ for Israel, Gulf states, US envoy claims

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaks during a briefing at the White House (AFP)

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  October 5, 2020

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman says if Joe Biden wins presidential election, it would damage Trump’s efforts to subdue Iran.

The US ambassador to Israel has said a victory for Joe Biden in November’s presidential election would see American policy on Iran shift in a way that would be damaging to Israel and the Gulf states.

Speaking to the United Arab Emirates newspaper al-AinFriedman said Iran was the “most consequential issue of the election”.

“As you know, Joe Biden was part of the Obama administration that negotiated and implemented the Iran deal, something that President Trump – and I share his view – thinks was the worst international deal the US has ever entered into,” Friedman said on Sunday.

“It created a path for Iran to get a nuclear weapon,” he said in an excerpt from the interview posted on Twitter.

US President Donald Trump left the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, criticising it heavily and saying that it gave Tehran the ability to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran has repeatedly denied it seeks to build nuclear weapons.

Since then, the Trump administration has embarked on what it has called the “maximum pressure campaign”, which includes the re-imposition of sanctions in an attempt by Washington to bring the leaders of Iran to the negotiating table in order to create a new deal.

“We are in a very good place in terms of the sanctions we have imposed upon Iran, and we think if we continue down this path, Iran will have no choice but to end its malign activity,” Friedman said.

“We worked really hard to get Iran, I think, to a much better place. I would hate to think a new administration would undermine that but, regrettably, if Biden wins, I think they might,” the ambassador added.

Bad for Israel, bad for the Gulf

Friedman also claimed that if Biden were to win, the shift in Iran policy “will be bad for the region, including for Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait”, he said.

Since Trump was elected to office, he has made numerous concessions to Israel, including moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognising Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.

Last month, the White House hosted the signing ceremonies for normalisation deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

While Biden, who served as vice president under Barack Obama from 2008 to 2016, has said he is a “stalwart support of Israel”, the presidential candidate has also said he would re-join the nuclear deal if Iran returns to compliance.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said last month that regardless of who wins the election this November, Iran will not be renegotiating the nuclear agreement.

“The United States first must come clean, must get its act together, must come back to be a lawful member of the international community, start implementing its obligations and then talk about the rest of the deal,” he said during a virtual event at the Council on Foreign Relations.