How do the Israelis see the Americans

The main news in the US on Tuesday morning was the approval of Pfizer and Biontech's corona vaccine for children between the ages of twelve and 15. CNN also ran a prominent story about a "trampoline jumper" who could replace Angela Merkel as Chancellor. Fear that a new war between Israel and the Palestinians will break out in the Middle East is of little concern to the broader American public.

This disinterest reflects the US government's view of what is going on in Jerusalem. In short, the new President Joe Biden has decided to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Not a priority - neither in terms of its global agenda, nor in terms of its Middle East policy. He is not indifferent to what happens in Jerusalem because it can have dire consequences for the entire region. But Biden doesn't see it as his job to finally bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians. Too many US presidents before him have tried unsuccessfully.

The reaction from Washington seems cautious and routine

The reaction from Washington to the most recent clashes and skirmishes was correspondingly subdued. The State Department and the White House have held the usual talks with Israeli and Arab representatives, they have publicly urged de-escalation and called on all sides to refrain from violence and provocation. These statements were always linked - this is also part of the standard rhetoric - that Israel naturally has the right to defend itself against attacks.

One cannot speak of a powerful, active diplomatic intervention by the USA or even significant pressure on the government in Jerusalem. It is true that the new US president has a far less friendly relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump. But that did not lead to American Middle East policy becoming fundamentally critical of Israel with the change of power in Washington. That could change if the situation got out of hand and other states were drawn into the conflict. But so far Biden's strategy seems to have been characterized by restraint.

There are several reasons for that. For one thing, the so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace process has long ceased to be a geopolitical priority for Washington. Other conflicts are more pressing. From Biden's point of view, this is mainly the rivalry with China.

Second, the focus of Biden's Middle East policy is not Israel and the Palestinians, but the Iranians. Like President Barack Obama, Biden is concentrating on curbing the regime in Tehran and using diplomacy - in other words, the return to the so-called nuclear agreement that Trump had terminated - to prevent the construction of nuclear weapons. That can only work if Israel, which is directly threatened by Iran and threatens its own military action, supports the American line at least halfway.

The lobby of the Palestinians in Washington is loud - but manageable

However, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a sharp critic of the nuclear diplomacy between the United States and Iran. Forcing him even further into the role of the adversary by the US now openly taking the side of the Palestinians is seen in Washington as counterproductive.

And third, the lobby that the Palestinians have in Washington is loud, but very manageable. Except for a small group of parliamentarians, almost all of whom belong to the left wing of the Democrats - including such prominent representatives as Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - nobody is putting much pressure on Biden to help the Palestinians. Domestically, there is little to gain for Biden by putting pressure on Israel.